SOUTHERN COMPANY AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES
MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF
FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle
The Kemper IGCC was approved by the Mississippi PSC in the 2010 CPCN proceedings, subject to a construction cost cap of $2.88 billion, net of $245 million of Initial DOE Grants and excluding the Cost Cap Exceptions. The combined cycle and associated common facilities portion of the Kemper IGCC were placed in service in August 2014.
In December 2015, the Mississippi PSC issued an order (In-Service Asset Rate Order), based on a stipulation between Mississippi Power and the MPUS, authorizing rates that provide for the recovery of approximately $126 million annually related to the combined cycle and associated common facilities portion of Kemper IGCC assets previously placed in service. As required by the In-Service Asset Rate Order, on June 5, 2017, Mississippi Power made a rate filing requesting to adjust the amortization schedules of the regulatory assets reviewed and determined prudent in a manner that would not change customer rates or annual revenues. On June 28, 2017, the Mississippi PSC suspended this filing. On July 6, 2017, the Mississippi PSC issued an order requiring Mississippi Power to establish a regulatory liability account to maintain current rates related to the Kemper IGCC following the July 2017 completion of the amortization period for certain regulatory assets approved in the In-Service Asset Rate Order that would allow for subsequent refund if the Mississippi PSC deems the rates unjust and unreasonable. At September 30, 2017, the related regulatory liability totaled $7 million.
The initial production of syngas began on July 14, 2016 for gasifier "B" and on September 13, 2016 for gasifier "A." Mississippi Power achieved integrated operation of both gasifiers on January 29, 2017, including the production of electricity from syngas in both combustion turbines. During testing, the plant produced and captured CO2, and produced sulfuric acid and ammonia, each of acceptable quality under the related off-take agreements. However, Mississippi Power experienced numerous challenges during the extended start-up process to achieve integrated operation of the gasifiers on a sustained basis. In May 2017, after achieving these milestones, Mississippi Power determined that a critical system component, the syngas coolers, would need replacement sooner than originally planned, which would require significant lead time and significant cost. In addition, the long-term natural gas price forecast has decreased significantly and the estimated cost of operating and maintaining the facility during the first five full years of operations has increased significantly since certification.
On June 21, 2017, the Mississippi PSC stated its intent to issue the Kemper Settlement Order (which occurred on July 6, 2017) directing Mississippi Power to pursue a settlement under which the Kemper County energy facility would be operated as a natural gas plant, rather than an IGCC plant, and address all issues associated with the Kemper IGCC. The Kemper Settlement Order established the Kemper IGCC Settlement Docket for the purposes of pursuing a global settlement of costs of the Kemper IGCC. The Mississippi PSC requested any such proposed settlement agreement reflect: (i) at a minimum, no rate increase to Mississippi Power customers (with a rate reduction focused on residential customers encouraged); (ii) removal of all cost risk to customers associated with the Kemper IGCC gasifier and related assets; and (iii) modification or amendment of the CPCN for the Kemper IGCC to allow only for ownership and operation of a natural gas facility.
On June 28, 2017, Mississippi Power notified the Mississippi PSC that it would begin a process to suspend operations and start-up activities on the gasifier portion of the Kemper IGCC, given the uncertainty as to the future of the gasifier portion of the Kemper IGCC. Mississippi Power expects to continue to operate the combined cycle portion of the Kemper IGCC as it has done since August 2014. At the time of project suspension, the total cost estimate for the Kemper IGCC was approximately $7.38 billion, including approximately $5.95 billion of costs subject to the construction cost cap, and was net of the $137 million in Additional DOE Grants.
While the ultimate disposition of the gasification portions of the Kemper IGCC remains subject to the Mississippi PSC's jurisdiction, including the potential resolution of the matters addressed in the Kemper IGCC Settlement Docket, given the Mississippi PSC's stated intent regarding no further rate increase for the Kemper County energy facility, cost recovery of the gasification portions is no longer probable; therefore, Mississippi Power recorded an additional charge to income in June 2017 of $2.8 billion ($2.0 billion after tax), which includes estimated costs associated with the gasification portions of the plant and lignite mine. In the third quarter 2017, Mississippi Power recorded an additional charge of $34 million ($21 million after tax) for ongoing project costs during suspension,