JACKSON, Miss.—On Monday, both sides of the Kemper County Coal Plant argument for raising rates for Mississippi Power customers were heard.
Last week the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved a 21% rate increase on the Kemper County Coal Plant that isn’t even operational yet.
The Sierra Club, who is adamantly against the rate increase, had 30 minutes to state their case and Mississippi Power had the same allotted time in front of the Mississippi Supreme Court justices.
“There’s just clear authority that utility rates are not taxes,” said lawyers representing the power company.
Ultimately the clear argument of the day, and even the whole issue, was whether or not the rate increase would be considered a simple rise in costs to consumers or rather a tax to consumers.
Justices questioned both sides on their definition of such, and the Sierra Club argued against the rate increase saying since no extra services will be rendered in any way, it must be considered a tax.
“I don’t think it is a tax, it’s not a tax actually, there’s case law that utility rates such as these are not taxes,” said Mississippi Power lawyers during their time to speak.
At times both sides seemed to be stumped by questions from the justices regarding the tax terminology for Mississippi consumers.
“I don’t think this is a simple rate increase,” said Sierra Club lawyers. “This is a rate increase to build a plant.”
To close out the arguments today the Sierra Club put it plain.
“It’s not a rate increase, it’s a forced investment.”