Southern’s $6.9 Billion Clean Coal Plant Produces First Power

  • Southern expects Kemper plant to be in service by Nov. 30
  • Complex built to convert coal into gas and capture carbon

Southern Co.’s $6.9 billion “clean coal” power plant in Mississippi produced electricity for the first time.

The Kemper station used synthetic natural gas, converted from Mississippi lignite coal, to produce its first batch of power, Southern’s Mississippi Power utility said in a statement Wednesday.

The generation brings Southern a step closer to placing the plant into full commercial operations after years of delays and cost overruns. Once in service, it’ll be the first large-scale power plant in the U.S. to gasify coal and capture carbon before it’s released into the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Energy provided $245 million in a grants for the project, which the coal industry had been banking on as a potential way toward developing cleaner-burning technologies as pollution limits take hold.

“After decades of research and years of hard work at the site, we are thrilled that the Kemper County energy facility, the world’s most advanced coal plant, has generated electricity using syngas,” Southern Chief Executive Officer Thomas Fanning said in the statement.

The utility’s now estimating an in-service date by Nov. 30. 

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