Financially troubled Southern Co. unit gets new president

[private]Anthony Wilson has been named the new president of Mississippi Power, a Southern Co. subsidiary that has been plagued by massive cost overruns on an experimental clean-coal power plant and a court order that reversed a rate increase.

Wilson, who worked nearly 13 years at Georgia Power before returning to Mississippi Power earlier this year, will also assume the duties of Chief Executive Officer E. Edison Holland Jr. on Jan. 1.

Holland will remain the company’s chairman and continue to oversee construction of the Kemper County plant that is now scheduled to be completed in June. He will also become president and CEO of Southern Co. Holdings and executive vice president of Southern Co. Services on Jan. 1.

The Kemper facility has encountered numerous delays since the project got underway and is now projected to cost $6.2 billion, which is nearly triple the original cost estimates. The power plant is designed to convert lignite coal into gas to generate electricity while capturing carbon dioxide to pump underground.

Mississippi Power stands to lose about $234 million in federal investment tax credits if the Kemper plant is not in service by April 19 – and the completion date has now slipped to June.

The Mississippi Supreme Court in February reversed a 2013 rate increase that had been granted to Mississippi Power by the state’s Public Service Commission and ordered a refund to customers totaling $350 million.

The PSC granted Mississippi Power a temporary 18 percent rate increase in August that could become permanent by December.

That increase was approved after the utility’s executives said the company was running out of cash and could not count on its corporate parent, Atlanta-based Southern Co., to bail it out.

“We are in desperate need of financial relief,” Holland said after the temporary rate increase was approved.

Wilson, the new president, is a native of D’Iberville, Miss., who began his Mississippi Power career in 1984 and worked his way up the corporate ladder.

He moved over to Georgia Power in 2002 and was manager of marketing regulatory affairs, vice president of distribution and transmission, and executive vice president of customer service and operations.

“Having Anthony return home earlier this year has been a tremendous addition to Mississippi Power and has allowed me the needed time to focus on bringing Kemper online,” Holland said. “His expanded leadership role is the next step in our succession plan.”

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

[/private]

Tags: Anthony Wilson , Mississippi Power , Southern Co.