Posted on Aug 14, 2018
President-Elect Steven Utroska presided over today’s meeting in Jamie’s absence. Mark Killingsworth gave today’s invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thanks to Wes Brooks who served as our greeter today.
Brandon Hodges then introduced today’s visitors. Several members of the meeting were present including Ellen Churchak, Susan Broadbridge, Corey Howard and Charles Herrington. Cindy Stanley attended the meeting as a guest of our speaker, Commissioner Sam Britton. Denny Bubrig had DeeDee Anderson as his guest and Dawson Morwy is a guest of the club. Dawson recently attended RYLA.
Denny asked that anyone who ordered a Rotary shirt or hat on the first run pick their shirt and/or hat up. He also noted that a second order has been placed and those shirts should be available soon. Brandon then introduced today’s guest speaker, Southern District Public Service Commissioner Sam Britton.
L-R: MS Public Service Commisstion-Southern District, Sam Britton; Pres. Elect, Steven
Utroska, and Sergeant-at-Arms, Brandon Hodges.
Commissioner Britton said he was going to address two topics for us today. One is the Kemper Plant and the other is an Energy Policy. As to Kemper, he says it is finally over and to really understand how the project concluded you have to first understand where we were ten years ago when the plant was conceived. Mississippi Power knew back then that they needed to generate more electricity if they were going to keep up with demand.
To complicate the energy needs or our state and the nation, President Obama declared a war on coal. The administration’s goal was to make the use and cost of traditional energy generating fuels so expensive that alternative energy sources would be a reasonable solution. Britton says Obama declared war on coal and through EPA regulations made the use of coal extremely expensive. The Kemper concept of using lignite coal, or clean coal, seemed like a reasonable alternative.
However, when the Kemper plant began construction they only had about 10% of the engineering drawings complete. When they broke ground they were using gas engineers because lignite has to be gasified before it can be used. However, during construction, they realized they needed chemical engineers. This change meant that much of the already constructed plant had to be rebuilt to accommodate the gasification process. Britton says they were good people who made some bad decisions.
When the end finally came in early 2018 Mississippi Power had to write off approximately $6.5 billion dollars. It took from June 2017 until February of this year for all the details of the negotiation to be completed. Britton says the main concern of the Public Service Commission was to see that the customers did not have to pay for the mistakes.
Britton says that we need a national energy policy and probably one at the state level as well. By creating policies that set the standards and guide development and security we should be able to prevent Kempers of the future.
Britton says that our national electric grid is very vulnerable to hackers. He says he is pretty sure that a foreign country already has the capability of turning our grid off and may someday attempt to do so if it would serve their purpose.
The Internet is the number one issue in the PSC office. Getting high-speed internet in rural parts of our state is a critical need. Britton says he would encourage changing the laws that prohibit electric power associations from providing Internet. Regulations and policies should help us get things done rather than slow us down or stop us from being able to do things.
Steven thanked Commissioner Britton and then introduced Dawson Morwy. Dawson thanked our club for providing his scholarship to RYLA this year. The group raised more than $13 thousand dollars this year to help Camp Jacob. Some of our club members participated in that project and he thanked them. Attending RYLA says Dawson, gave him a clear understanding of “service above self.” RYLA also taught him leadership skills but also taught him when he needs to follow.
With no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned by Jamey with our motto, “Service Above Self.”