Mississippi Power unopposed to net metering, eyes 100 MW RE procurement

Mississippi Power, the state utility provider for Mississippi that is owned by Southern Company, has announced that it is unopposed to net metering rules for residential solar systems that are set to be introduced by the state’s Public Service Commission.

A utility representative confirmed that the company has begun evaluating the benefits of renewable power as it seeks to extricate itself from the lower order of U.S. states’ adoption of renewable energy.

The company reached a settlement last week with the local chapter of the Sierra Club that will see Mississippi Power diversify its power generation mix, adding more natural gas, wind and solar power and weaning itself off a burdensome reliance on coal.

In agreeing to this diversification, Sierra Club – the U.S.’s largest environmental organization – will cease its legal and regulatory opposition to the Kemper coal gasification power plant. For its part, Mississippi Power will also pursue solar and wind PPAs with a nameplate capacity of around 100 MW over the next ten years, the utility confirmed.

"We do not have a timeline for signing a deal, but intend to proceed if we can find proposals that would make economic sense for customers and further diversify our energy mix," said Mississippi Power spokesperson Jeff Shepard.

Any confirmed request for proposal (RFP) in the state could trigger a solar rush, particularly among PV developers already active in the state’s southeast.

Georgia Power has two solar programs in the pipeline in Mississippi – a 425 MW utility scale project and a 100 MW residential solar procurement program – and has since won approval from the state public service commission to purchase 210 MW of PV before the end of 2014.

As a coal-reliant state, any utility-scale changes in Mississippi’s energy mix could have a transformative effect, and could represent a "quantum leap forward for Mississippians by creating a clear path for residents to install solar on their homes," said Mississippi Sierra Club state director, Louie Millie.

In 2012, Southern Company generated less than 0.05% of its electricity via renewable power sources, ranking 31st out of 32 U.S. utilities in energy efficiency and clean energy penetration.