Mississippi’s 19.8 million acres of forestland fuels a thriving forest product industry, generating a $12.3 billion economic impact and 70,000 jobs, according to the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
A U.S. Energy Information Administration report shows Mississippi generated nearly 2.3 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources during 2015, with wood and wood waste accounting for almost all of the state’s renewable electricity generation. Renewable energy sources contributed 56.5 trillion Btu toward the state’s overall energy production, ranking fourth, after crude oil, nuclear energy and natural gas.
The performance of Mississippi’s energy products draws worldwide attention. For example, Drax Biomass Incorporated’s Amite BioEnergy facility in Gloster produces a softwood pellet used by a British power company. The power company uses Mississippi-made pellets as a cleaner alternative to coal.
The wood pellets are formed from low-quality soft pine harvested as part of trimming the stock of quality wood. Not long ago, much of this material would have gone unused. Today, they contribute to Mississippi’s energy profile, fueling economic growth. With the Gloster mill working in concert with a sister Drax facility in Louisiana, the companies are capable of producing 450,000 tons of wood pellets a year. Turning material once considered a natural waste product into a valuable export fuel creating career opportunities and building a stronger economy for Mississippi.
A study by Duke University and North Carolina State University found the increasing demand for wood pellets from the United Kingdom and European Union has increased U.S. forested areas and investments in U.S. forestry. This is a direct result of more effective and intense management by forest owners who strive to increase the value of their forests and optimize biomass production and use. This increased demand is welcome news in Mississippi, the No. 1 ranked state in the U.S. for the number of tree farms.
In a 2013 Area Development survey, executives ranked energy availability and costs as one of the top-10 factors in site selection. Paired with existing energy sources ranging from nuclear power to reserves of natural gas to a robust transmission system within the state’s borders, Mississippi’s renewable energy is one of the selling points used to attract career-producing jobs here.
As a mega energy state, Mississippi can leverage its energy and natural resource strengths to attract investment, boost the economy and improve the overall quality of life.
» Glenn McCullough, director of the Mississippi Development Association, writes an exclusive, quarterly column for the Mississippi Business Journal.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info