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In the early hours of October 9th, houses in Kemper County shook as though from an earthquake. But this was no accident of nature: this was the planned implosion of part of the Kemper Power Plant. (Photo: Facebook)

The Myth of 'Clean Coal': Power for Southern People Not Southern Company

It is imperative that we the people begin to hold Southern Power and its subsidiaries responsible for the economic and climate damage they have caused in our communities.

The project was an ambitious one: in 2010, construction began on the Kemper Power Plant, touted as the pinnacle of the movement to bring "clean coal" to America. The plant, which was intended to be the largest of its kind, and to serve as a proof-of-concept for future plants to follow, would spend the next eleven years trying and failing to become operational, while the monopoly that owned it, Southern Power, fobbed the costs of its ill-conceived venture off on the residents of Kemper County. Despite the fact that the plant never provided clean-coal power to a single person, local people saw their utility bills go up and up as the years wore on-until one day, the plant itself went down.

We demand that monopolies like Mississippi Power be held to account for their corrupt practices and begin to make reparations for the damages they have done to communities-disproportionately Black people and people of color.

The disaster of the Kemper Power Plant was merely the most recent in a long series of unethical actions taken by Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Power. Their stunning corporate greed and long history of disregard for the communities of color they disproportionately harm led Arm in Arm, a coalition dedicated to ending the climate crisis by centering racial and economic justice, to launch the Power 4 Southern People NOT Southern Power campaign. Power 4 Southern People aims to take power out of the hands of corporate energy monopolies and the corrupt politicians who feed them and return it where it belongs: to the people. This moment marks the one-year anniversary of the Kemper Plant implosion that is a glaring culmination of years of climate injustice inequities affecting thousands of people in communities across the state being exploited by Mississippi Power.

In the early hours of October 9th, houses in Kemper County shook as though from an earthquake. But this was no accident of nature: this was the planned implosion of part of the Kemper Power Plant.

Residents had not been informed of the plan to demolish a section of the $7.5 billion dollar plant- but then, residents had not been informed of a lot of things. For instance, many folks living in the plant's vicinity had been told the plant would create jobs, but hadn't been told that their medical bills would likely increase due to the many health hazards associated with living in the immediate vicinity of a power plant. They hadn't been told that, in the more than ten years since construction began on the plant, that the project had gone more than $4 billion dollars over budget, despite never having produced a megawatt of so-called "clean-coal" power for the community. And they certainly didn't know that they had personally footed the bill for that overage: Mississippi Power had simply and quietly increased utility bill rates on residents to cover rising costs, all while launching insidious ad campaigns implying that the increased cost was due to irresponsible personal usage. Mississippi Power did all of this knowingly and, they believed, with impunity. As the main power provider in the state, they thought they could act in whatever way most benefited their shareholders, without having to suffer the consequences.

It is time for the people to show them they are wrong. This is far from the first time a massive corporation has taken advantage of economically disenfranchised people or communities of color (as of 2021 Kemper County community is comprised of 67.2% majority black , indigenous, and latino residents), nor is it the first time a predatory utility monopoly has let those communities foot the bill for that mismanagement while also taking federal tax credits from corrupt politicians. With your help, however, it could be among the last.

It is imperative that we the people begin to hold Southern Power and its subsidiaries responsible for the economic and climate damage they have caused in our communities. We demand that monopolies like Mississippi Power be held to account for their corrupt practices and begin to make reparations for the damages they have done to communities-disproportionately Black people and people of color-in the past. We demand that Mississippi Power prioritize the wellbeing and prosperity of its customers and communities before its shareholders. We center the power of the people over corporations in the battle to end the climate crisis by advancing a pollution free economy. The power belongs to the people, and together we can take it back.