- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 10, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The latest news on rate hearings on Mississippi Power Co.’s Kemper County power plant. All times are local.

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4:37 p.m.

Mississippi Power Co. has agreed to a smaller rate increase for part of its Kemper County power plant.

If the Public Service Commission agrees, the deal would cut an 18 percent rate increase to about 15 percent, saving the typical residential customer $5 monthly. The company would agree to accept $127 million a year, instead of $159 million it sought. The agreement also calls for the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. to refund about $20 to every residential customer in a bill credit.

The deal with the Public Utilities Staff was announced Tuesday at a Public Service Commission hearing. The meeting examined whether Mississippi Power has spent prudently on part of its $6.4 billion project.

The staff is separate from the PSC. Commissioners could adopt, discard or change the proposal.

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3:16 a.m.

Utility regulators open a hearing Tuesday to determine whether Mississippi Power Co. spent prudently in the construction of part of its $6.4 billion Kemper County power plant.

The prudency hearing will shape how three public service commissioners vote in December on whether the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. can keep collecting an 18-percent rate increase from its 186,000 customers.

The Public Service Commission granted Mississippi Power an emergency rate increase in August, after the company pleaded that it was running out of cash.

The utility says it’s due $159 million a year because part of the power plant has been generating electricity since August 2014, burning natural gas.

The independent Public Utilities Staff and a group of ratepayers both challenge that figure, saying Mississippi Power asks too much.

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