By Keith Burton – GulfCoastNews.com 10/31/06
GulfCoastNews.com has learned that a federal grant to help offset the losses suffered by several Mississippi utilities from Hurricane Katrina has been approved. But the big beneficiary will be South Mississippians.
On Monday, Mississippi Power Company officials received confirmation that the money, totaling some $360 million is on the way. Of that money, $276 million will go to Mississippi Power. This is extremely good news for Mississippi Power Company customers.
“Had the governor, the Mississippi Public Service Commission and our Congressional delegation not obtained this money, Mississippi Power customers would have experienced a 30 percent rate increase for electrical service,” said Cindy Webb, a Mississippi Power Company spokesperson.
Mississippi Power will use the money to repay a $225 million dollar short term loan it acquired in September 2005 to provide the immediate cash it needed to make the enormous repairs from Katrina. That loan was for three years and now it will be offset by the federal grant.
Webb says the money will cover 90 percent of the storm damages suffered by the company in downed power line replacements and repairs to its electrical infrastructure after Katrina. Mississippi Power was widely praised for its amazingly fast restoration of the South Mississippi’s electrical grid after the hurricane.
Webb said that Governor Haley Barbour, and the state’s Congressional delegation of Senator’s Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, as well as Representative Gene Taylor, were instrumental in convincing Congress that the money, and the help, was badly needed.
Hurricane Katrina caused unprecedented damages to South Mississippi’s utility systems.
Other utilities benefiting from the federal grant are Entergy, Willmut Gas and Oil Co., and CenterPoint Energy.
Mississippi Power borrowed $225 million for its initial recovery funds for its Katrina repairs from AmSouth Bank, Lehman Commercial Paper Inc., Mizuho Corporate Bank, LTD., and Wachovia Bank, National.