Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Mississippi

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Even though Mississippi lacks in significant renewable energy policy support, the state has seen success in its endeavors to attract manufacturers of renewable energy with a number of implemented tax incentives. Mississippi’s biomass resources remain virtually untapped, despite being sixth largest in the nation. This holds massive potential for Mississippi to expand its utilization of biomass production for future generations.

1) Mississippi Biomass and Renewable Energy Council. The Mississippi Biomass and Renewable Energy Council boasts a membership form numerous industries, including forestry, agriculture, power generation, government agencies on the state and local levels, research and development institutions, high education facilities, and private individuals who are all interested in increasing the viable economic opportunities for biomass. The council looks to provide necessary information about biomass research and development, resources, technology, and use. They encourage the utilization of biomass waste and crops for biofuels, bioenergy, and a number of other biobased products.

2) Renewable Energy Businesses in Mississippi. There are a number of renewable energy businesses in Mississippi. There is the Alternative Energy Systems Co. of Mississippi which is a distributor of photovoltaic modules, hydro powered electric generators and wind powered electric generators. Ceva Green Development, LLC offers consultation, design, construction, and project development services for energy efficient buildings and homes. Mississippi Solar is involved in the consulting, design, site survey and assessment services, installation, and contractor services for photovoltaic systems, solar electric power systems, and energy efficient buildings and homes.

3) Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy for both Businesses and Residences throughout the State. Though there are not a large number of state financial incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency for businesses and residences, Mississippi does offer quite a few including the Mississippi Clean Energy Initiative for industry recruitment and support, Energy Investment Loan Program, Coast Electric Power Association – Heat Pump and Weatherization Loan Program, Mississippi Power EarthCents Financing Program, and a number of utility rebate programs with a variety of utility companies, including Coast Electric Power Association, Mississippi Power, and Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association.

4) Biofuel Project in Mississippi Planned by Enerkem. Enerkem, a Canadian based renewable energy company focusing on changing waste to biofuels, built a second-generation biofuels production factory in Pontotoc, Mississippi. The factory will create 150 permanent jobs and 300 construction-based jobs. The facility will create 20 million gallons of ethanol annually via a feedstock mix that would include wood residues and urban biomass. According to Vincent Chornet, the president and CEO of Enerkem said, “This project is unique in that it uses a mix of municipal solid waste – which has negative cost – and wood residues as feedstock, allowing Enerkem to achieve substantial commercial scale and favorable economics.”

5) Tulane University Looks Toward the “Mighty Mississippi” River for Renewable Energy. The project section of the Tulane University Center for Bioenvironmental Research has provided the proposal to establish a facility that would explore the possible hydrokinetic energy involved with the Mississippi river. According to the project director, Doug Meffert, “It’s the sleeping giant for renewable energies. Hydroelectric has gotten such a bad rap for some very justifiable reasons over the last several decades. These very large turbines that needed incredible investments in engineering and infrastructure to basically dam up entire river systems. That’s what people have tended to think of when they think of hydroelectric — impeding a salmon’s ability to spawn, or flooding out entire valleys and destroying rare species. That’s an antiquated model. That’s nowhere near where this type of energy is going now. It’s a whole new energy source.”

6) Mississippi Development Authority Provides Grants for Renewable Energy Projects. The Mississippi Development Authority announced the dispersal of eleven grants under the Renewable Energy Projects grant program, which is part of the State Energy Program, funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It offers grants to projects that utilize commercially available systems for renewable energy. The grants went to projects under the categories of solar evaporators, photovoltaic systems, waste heat recovery, and biomass.

7) Implementation of Smart Meter Network. In 2009 Mississippi made the announcement that it wants to install approximately 1,500 smart meters along various state government buildings using the funds they received from the federal stimulus act. Southern Co, one of the largest utilities in the area wants to create an estimated four million smart meters by 2012, but a majority has been in Alabama and Georgia. Entergy, another large energy company is using $3 million from the stimulus funds for their project which would deploy 5,000 smart meters.

8 ) Mississippi Houses LEED Gold Building. The United States Green Building Council, in 2010, awarded its LEED Gold Award to an environmental research and educational center along the coast of Mississippi. The Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center located in Jackson County is the first state government owned LEED certified project in the state. The center expands over 18,000 acres and is home to a number of rare animals and plant species and a number of recreational and commercial fish species.

9) Greenhouse Gas Inventory at the University of Mississippi. The Greenhouse Gas Inventory, according to the Environmental Protection Agency is “An accounting of the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted to or removed from the atmosphere over a specific period of time…[it]also provides information on the activities that cause emissions and removals.” The University of Mississippi signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, and in it, the university conducts an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and then proposes a number of green initiatives to lower the greenhouse gas emissions level.

10) The University of Southern Mississippi’s Office of Sustainability. The Office of Sustainability at the University of Southern Mississippi was established as part of the Southern Miss Green Initiative which assists the university in striving to become a great model for sustainable practice and thought throughout the state. In its vision statement, the Office of Sustainability says, “Through development of ideas and programs, we will encourage healthy dialogue, forward thinking, and behaviors that instill a collective awareness and concern of how our impact affects future generations.”

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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