At a Mississippi Energy Policy Institute (MEPI) meeting today in Jackson, Gov. Haley Barbour discussed ways Mississippi can be a national leader in energy innovation.
“Energy is the lifeblood of the world’s economy,” Barbour said. His goal for Mississippi is abundant, affordable energy. “We’re going to be in the energy game any way we can get in it,” he said.
The MEPI has released a report outlining approaches for helping to assure Mississippi’s competitive position in the energy industry. MEPI exists to conduct research and develop state policies that support a reliable, expanding and environmentally friendly energy portfolio; to engage in the national energy debate; and to capitalize on Mississippi energy market opportunities.
MEPI was created by Momentum Mississippi, a public-private partnership set up by Barbour to carry out the work of the 1987 Economic Development Planning Act in charting and tracking the state’s economic development future.
MEPI goals include:
· Developing natural, nuclear and renewable resources in an environmentally responsible manner
· Expanding the state’s carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) industry
· Encouraging energy efficient and the Smart Grid
· Preparing the workforce for existing and emerging energy sector needs and innovation
· Supporting energy infrastructure development and advanced energy sector manufacturing
· Assessing the impact of federal and state energy regulation proposals
Barbour said, “I am committed to MEPI being a permanent organization” outside state government. You can lead a legislature to water, but you can’t make it drink, he said.
Barbour made arguments for Mississippi Power Company’s proposed $2.4 billion Kemper County lignite coal plant. While Mississippi is not sitting on new shale reserves of natural gas, lignite coal is plentiful. With the proposed plant MPC can convert the lower grade lignite coal into a money-making fuel, he said. Because of its lower Btu value, it’s not going to be exported, protecting it from price fluctuation, he said.
Additionally, Kemper would be the first example of a large-scale power plant using CCS technology, Barbour said. The capture carbon could be sold to companies that would use it for Enhanced Oil Recovery.
Barbour also said he was proud of companies like Chevron, an industry leader in refining lower grade petroleum operating in Pascagoula, and biofuel companies such as Scott Biodiesel in Greenville.
The governor also said two solar power equipment companies were currently talking with Mississippi Development Authority about manufacturing in the state.