One of the key activities for the Kemper County energy facility's startup process has been completed in less than half the time originally expected, with no major issues detected and, more importantly, no accidents or injuries.

On Nov. 21, Kemper team members began a procedure estimated to last up to 31 days performing 48 "steam blows," the process of blowing steam through pipes to ensure that they are clean, tight and leak free.

"The steam blows were completed after just 12 days," Joe Miller, Kemper startup manager said. "The reduced time can be attributed to exceptional planning, outstanding teamwork, the craftsmanship of the individuals installing the temporary piping, the repeated review of the steam blow procedures, outstanding communication and, more importantly, our insistence that no shortcuts be taken."

To ensure safety and efficiency, Kemper startup team leaders actually delayed beginning the steam blows due to considerably colder weather in mid-November -- time that was easily made up as a very effective steam blow process unfolded.

Operation began on the gasifier island as steam progressively cleaned piping, and then the process culminated with "target" steam blows.

"In target steam blows, polished steel targets are inserted into the steam flow for a 20- minute period," Miller added. "Then the target is removed and assessed to determine if any material impacted the target. A new target is inserted each time until three successive clean targets are obtained. This process is an industry standard that ensures that our high cleanliness specifications are reached."

"We are also very pleased that no injuries occurred, which is significant when you consider the amount of hot steam being channeled through 48 different paths," said John Huggins, Mississippi Power's vice president of Generation Development. "We are proud of the tremendous effort by the entire Kemper team to accomplish this important milestone safely."

The Kemper County energy facility's recordable injury rate since construction commenced four years ago stands at 0.49, one of the best in the industry.

Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for more than 186,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Recognized throughout the utility industry for excellence in storm restoration and recovery efforts, Mississippi Power is the 2013 winner of the Edison Electric Institute's Emergency Assistance Award. As a leader in safety, Mississippi Power ranked first in the 2013 Southeastern Electric Exchange (SEE) Safety Performance Reports. Visit our websites at mississippipower.com and mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.