Carbon capture is hailed as the coal sector’s great hope — the technology that can keep it relevant for decades to come. But that potential promise is now under scrutiny and federal examiners are looking into cost overruns at a coal facility in Mississippi.
Southern Co.’s Kemper unit is $6.7 billion over budget. The US Securities and Exchange Commission wants to know why, although Southern has said the investigation will not have impact its financials.
“The company started to pick up indications that public awareness of the investigation had matured to a point that, in our judgment, it should be disclosed,” says Jeff Shepard, spokesman for Mississippi Power Co., in a statement. “As this is an ongoing investigation … While we cannot predict the ultimate outcome, as we have said in our disclosures on this matter, we do not expect the investigation to have a material impact on the financial statements of either Southern Company or Mississippi Power.”
The Kemper facility would capture carbon and then use it to enhance oil recovery.
The South Mississippi Electric Power Association had earlier dropped out of Kemper facility, saying that it is too expensive.
The Obama administration has also quit FutureGen 2, a plant that would have gasified coal, captured the emissions and buried the carbon. The project’s escalating costs was cited as a major reason.