Settlement among Miss. Power, co-ops over electricity costs filed with FERC

September 28th, 2012 No comments

Mississippi Power Co. has submitted for federal approval an agreement it struck with South Mississippi Electric Power Association and East Mississippi Power Association over how much the two cooperatives will pay annually for electricity.

The settlement agreement was filed Thursday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which must approve it.

In November 2011, MPC filed with FERC a request for $32.6 million in additional revenue from its deals with SMEPA and EMEPA, to cover costs related to the Kemper County coal plant, the purchase of two combined cycle units at the company’s Plant Daniel in Jackson County and the retirement or partial retirement of generating units as more stringent environmental regulations took hold.

Shortly after MPC’s initial filing, SMEPA and EMEPA each filed a motion to intervene and protest. The settlement process started in early 2012. By January 20, a deal had been struck.  The parties filed a settlement agreement with FERC March 13.

The process was thrown a curveball later in March, when the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the 2010 Mississippi Public Service Commission order granting a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Kemper plant did not cite sufficient evidence from the record. Commissioners eventually issued a second certificate.

The original settlement agreement among MPC and the two co-ops held together, with the exception of a few additional clarifications being  inserted.

The result is that MPC will receive $22.5 million – $10.1 million less than the original request — more from SMEPA and EMEPA, based on the revised rates being applied over 12 months. Because the rates would not take effect until after April 1, the actual amount MPC would receive is $16.98 million if FERC approves the deal. The cost of the wholesale electricity the co-ops purchase from MPC would go up an average of 7.1 percent.

Mississippi Public Service commissioners voted over the summer to deny a 13 percent rate hike for the Kemper plant that would have generated about $58 million. The Commission also stipulated that they would not entertain anymore rate increase requests related to the Kemper plant until the Mississippi Supreme Court had ruled on the litigation surrounding the facility. The Sierra Club, which opposes the plant on environmental and financial grounds, is seeking to invalidate the second certificate the PSC issued.

SMEPA plans to purchase a 17.5 percent ownership stake in the $2.88 billion plant. Commercial operation is scheduled to start in May 2014.

Food truck scheduled to hit downtown Jackson Oct. 8

September 27th, 2012 No comments

Lurny D's Grille, downtown's first food truck, is set to start serving gourmet burgers and French fries Oct. 8.

If everything goes as planned, Lurny D’s Grille food truck will roll into downtown Jackson Oct. 8.

It’ll be hard to miss.

Owner Lauren Davis said Thursday morning he told the artist who painted the truck he wanted a “’70s groovy” concept. It looks like Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine.

“I’m actually on my way to Atlanta right now to pick it up,” Davis said.

Davis said he hopes to spend the week of Oct. 1 completing the Mississippi State Department of Health’s inspection process and jumping through the permitting hoops with the Jackson Police Department’s traffic division.

Once that is finished, Davis hopes to start operation Oct. 8. The menu will be fairly simple: Lurny D’s will serve gourmet hamburgers and French fries.

“I’ll probably expand the menu after I kind of get settled, probably after about a month or so,” Davis said.

Lurny D’s will be the first food truck to hit downtown since the ordinance allowing them passed earlier this year. Future plans include expanding the truck’s territory to the Fondren business district.

It represents a significant career shift for Davis. “I worked in the advertising industry before I came up with this crazy scheme to open a food truck,” he said.

He said he and his wife were fans of the Food Network and had both cultivated a lifelong affinity for cooking.

Opening a food truck is a different animal, though, than starting a brick-and-mortar restaurant. For one, there’s less financial risk. Most of the overhead is tied up in a truck, which is often cheaper than buying or leasing commercial space.

“I’d done some research into the food trucks in different cities, and I found that a lot of people doing it did not have what you’d consider restaurant experience,” Davis said. “So this is a new thing, for sure. I couldn’t be more excited, though.”

Charley Hutchison, young app developer, to appear on CNN

September 26th, 2012 No comments

Jackson’s Charley Hutchison, a 12-year-old St. Andrews’s Episcopal School student who’s already developed one app for the iPhone and is working on another, will fly with his family Wednesday to New York to tape a segment with CNN reporter Erin Burnett.

Melissa Hutchison, Charley’s mom, said Wednesday morning that the segment would likely air one of the next two Thursdays, either Oct. 4 or Oct. 11.

The Mississippi Business Journal first told you in May about Charley (link to the story here) and his FriendsForFlickr app that combines photo sharing with contact information storage. FriendsForFlickr was the second app Charley had developed, but the first for iPhone. His Doodles app was available only on the Android platform.

Melissa Hutchison said they would have a better idea exactly when Charley’s segment would air after taping Thursday night.

Groups to appeal oil and gas rules for Mississippi Sound

September 25th, 2012 No comments

Mississippi Development Authority executive director Brent Christensen denied Monday an appeal by two environmental groups to reconsider rules governing oil and gas leases, drilling and exploration in the Mississippi Sound.

The Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network had asked the agency to rethink its decision to allow those activities in the area south of the Mississippi Barrier Islands. Under the rules, they would be allowed within one mile seaward of the islands.

The two groups announced Tuesday afternoon plans to appeal Christensen’s decision. A press release did not specify in what court that appeal would take place. The Sierra Club and GRN initially appealed the rules to Hinds County Chancery Court, but the MDA was successful in convincing the chancellor that the first appeal had to go through the agency.

GRN Mississippi organizer Raleigh Hoke said the MDA “has completely ignored the negative impacts the drilling and production could have on coastal tourism and other industries.”

The release said the groups are appealing on behalf of the 12 Miles South Coalition, an organization made up of Coast business and community leadership whose goal is to limit drilling and related activities no closer than 12 nautical miles south of the islands. The Coalition says drilling closer would harm the area’s tourism economy.

U.S. Economic Census forms to arrive starting in November

September 25th, 2012 No comments

The results from the 2010 population Census have been known since last year, but there’s another accounting at hand.

Starting in November, businesses will start to receive forms for the U.S. Economic Census. According to the Census Bureau, more than 4 million businesses – including 38,000 in Mississippi – will receive forms to fill out and return. Responses are due by Feb. 12, 2013.

The Economic Census is taken every five years, and serves the same purpose as the population count: to develop a portrait of American business that’s as comprehensive as possible. Like data from the population count, public policy decisions rely heavily on the information gleaned from the Economic Census. Trade associations, chambers of commerce and businesses themselves use the data to set their policies, too.

To learn more about the Economic Census, click here.

Categories: U.S. Census, U.S. Economic Census Tags:

Chickasaw County mulls economic development partnership with Pontotoc, Union counties

September 24th, 2012 No comments

In this week’s Mississippi Business Journal, there’s a story that examines whether the forthcoming economic development conglomeration among the counties in the Golden Triangle could be the start of a trend.

The question might have already been answered, at least somewhat.

Leaders in Chickasaw County are considering joining an existing partnership between Pontotoc and Union counties. Remember, it was the partnership among Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties that developed the Wellspring site that eventually became home to Toyota. The PUL Alliance is considered the gold standard for regionalism in Mississippi.

Golden Triangle officials are hoping to replicate that success with their new arrangement, which doesn’t fully come online until October 2014. Seventy percent of the $2.5 million budget for what will eventually be the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority will come from public entities within Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay counties. The other 30 percent will come from private sources.

For a complete story on Chickasaw County’s possible partnership with Pontotoc and Union counties, click here.


Attorney for Miss. NFL plaintiffs: Courts should hear concussion lawsuits, not CBA

September 20th, 2012 No comments

A group of Mississippi-connected plaintiffs has joined the cascade of concussion litigation aimed at the National Football League.

The Mississippi lawsuit was filed in federal court in Jackson Aug. 28.

Names that jump out among the more than 60 or so plaintiffs, not all of whom are Mississippians, are: former South Panola High School and Alabama linebacker Dwayne Rudd, former Jackson State wide receiver Jimmy Smith, and former Ole Miss halfback and quarterback Perry Lee Dunn, who was a member of the Rebels’ undefeated 1962 national championship team.

The complaint lists long-term chronic injuries, financial losses and expenses as a result of head injuries and concussions. Plaintiffs claim the NFL knew there was evidence that linked repetitive head trauma to long-term neurological problems, but hid that evidence before fraudulently manipulating in the mid-1990s medical research related to the subject. It does not seek a specific amount in monetary damages.

In all, more than 140 similar lawsuits have been field across the U.S. on behalf of nearly 3,400 former players. The total number plaintiffs is almost 5,300 when you include spouses, family members and representatives.

The cases have been consolidated before a federal judge in Philadelphia, Penn.

Philip Thomas, one of two lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said Thursday morning that the wave of lawsuits filed before the one in Mississippi have gotten the ball rolling as far as sorting out a lot of the pretrial issues. Chief among those, Thomas said, is whether the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association should govern player health and safety rules, and not the courts.

The league, in a motion filed in late August, said it should. Plaintiffs’ attorneys will file their response to that in October, Thomas said.

“Our position is that the CBA does not cover this due to the nature of the allegations, the fraud allegations especially, because that’s not something the CBA would contemplate,” Thomas said.

Categories: NFL, NFL concussion lawsuits Tags:

FEMA offering free rebuilding consultations to Isaac victims

September 19th, 2012 No comments

If your home, business or both sustained damage from Hurricane Isaac, it’s likely you’d prefer to repair it to withstand that kind of storm if and when one hits again.

From Wednesday until Monday, FEMA will have mitigation specialists at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse stores in Pascagoula, Flowood and Meridian. Consultations are free and are available on a walk-in basis. They will cater to home and business owners who will perform the repairs and rebuilds themselves, and to contractors.

FEMA’s mitigation specialists will have tips on reinforcing structures against high winds via retrofitting, protecting electrical systems and appliances from floodwaters, and eliminating mold and mildew. Consultations will be available Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Categories: FEMA, Hurricane Isaac, Lowe's Tags:

Gunn announces ‘Mississippi Ideas Tour’

September 18th, 2012 No comments

Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, R-Clinton, will kick off Oct. 8 what he’s calling a “Mississippi Ideas Tour.”

According to a press release, Gunn will hold town hall-style meetings around the state to gather from media, citizens and lawmakers “the best ideas to move Mississippi forward.” The tour will start in Jackson on Oct. 8, and end Oct. 11 in Biloxi. Each stop will last about 75 minutes, Gunn’s office said.

The legislative session that starts in January will be Gunn’s second as speaker. This week, Gunn is presiding over his first meeting as chairman of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, as state agencies make their budget requests for fiscal year 2013.

The full schedule of Gunn’s tour is below.

Oct. 8

9:00 a.m.—Jackson, Capitol, Rm. 113*

1:00 p.m.—Greenwood, downtown, city council room

4:30 p.m.—Hernando, city courtroom

Oct. 9

9:00 a.m.—Tupelo, Tupelo City Hall, city council chambers, second floor

1:30 p.m.—Columbus, city hall

5:00 p.m.—Meridian, city hall, third floor

Oct. 11

9:00 a.m.—Hattiesburg, cultural center on Main Street

1:30 p.m.—Biloxi, city hall

*subject to change based on renovation schedule*


Categories: Phillip Gunn Tags:

Details of Golden Triangle development organization unveiled.

September 17th, 2012 No comments

Friday afternoon, government and economic development officials in the Golden Triangle unveiled a plan for an economic development cooperative they say will become the model of regionalism in Mississippi.

The Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority will not officially arrive until October 2014. Until then, the Golden Triangle Development LINK (which until Friday was known as the Columbus-Lowndes Development LINK) will handle the recruitment of industry to Starkville and Oktibbeha County, Columbus and Lowndes County and to West Point and Clay County.

The LINK’s new executive committee will be made up members from each county. The committee’s main objective will be implementing the plan that will eventually turn the new GTRD LINK into the GTRDA.

The consortium will have an annual operating budget of $2.5 million, 70 percent of which will come from public entities in the three counties that make up the Golden Triangle.  The organization hopes to privately fund the remaining 30 percent via five-year agreements with area businesses.

The agreement was the result of a steering committee made up of representatives of each county. The plan was formulated after a series of committee meetings over the summer.

The work of each county’s existing, individual economic development organizations will continue, with the usual emphasis on retail development.

“There is still a very important local community development role to be played,” Starkville mayor Parker Wiseman said Monday morning. “Cultivating the existing economy will be a big part of that. (The local organizations) just won’t have the responsibility of major industrial recruitment. That will be left up to the LINK.”

Wiseman said there will not be a tax increase necessary “in the short-run” to pay for Starkville and Oktibbeha County’s portion of the LINK’s budget. By 2014, when the LINK is scheduled to become the GTRDA, each city and county entity will have to decide if they can fund their $350,000 obligation without raising taxes as much as two mills.

Details of the new organization can be found on the LINK’s website.