Mississippi Power announced Thursday completion of a major construction milestone at its Kemper County energy facility as plant construction nears the halfway mark. Installed was a section of the plant’s gasifier, which will be used to convert the plant’s fuel source, lignite, into a synthesis gas to generate electricity.

    “Installation of the gasifier marks a pivotal point in the construction phase of our project and the advancement of 21st century coal technology,” said Mississippi Power Vice President of Generation Development Tommy Anderson. “The electricity produced from this state-of-the art facility will have significant customer and environmental benefits.”

    Emission controls are built into the coal gasification process and the project will capture at least 65 percent of the carbon dioxide produced, with resulting emissions comparable to a similarly sized natural gas plant, according to a press release.

    The company has signed long-term contracts to sell the byproducts from the gasification process. Revenue from the sale of these byproducts will lower the overall costs for customers by approximately $50 million annually once the plant is in service, the press release states.

     Contract Fabricators Incorporated of Holly Springs manufactured the first of two installed sections of the gasifier. Weighing approximately 550 tons — which is equivalent to two Statues of Liberty — the gasifier is being lifted and installed by a 600-foot crane that was assembled on the plant site. The crane weighs nearly four million pounds and has a lift capacity of 1,500 tons.

    Commercial operation of the 582-megawatt facility is expected to begin May 2014.

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