Lt. Governor: State can gain energy independence, lower costs to customer

By Jon Kalahar - email

RAYMOND, MS (WLOX) - Over the last several months, you probably have noticed the roller coaster ride your power bill has been on. It's why Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant brought together energy experts from across the state Wednesday to discuss what can be done to keep more money in your pocket.

Holly Springs Mayor Andre DeBerry said he's preparing his town for a winter increase.

"They've already talked about a 20 percent increase that we have to pass on to our customers," said DeBerry.

DeBerry said Holly Springs is looking at renewable energy to offset costs.

"I think we've got to become independent. When we talk about energy independence, we remove ourselves from the fossil fuel, but what do we replace it with?" DeBerry asked.

Bryant's energy summit is bringing everyone to the table to find out what's out there. Mississippi currently produces 20 million barrels of oil a year, and Entergy and Mississippi Power are looking to add nuclear and clean coal power plants in the future.

"Things are going on today and it's important that we make sure we're looking at it from a state perspective to take advantage of those for the economic growth of the state and for the energy that we need," said Anthony Topazi, CEO of Mississippi Power.

"We need to have a reliable and affordable source of energy in order to remain competitive and stay in business," said John Baas with the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.

Still, for customers, there's only one bottom line they want to hear about. What does this energy summit have to do with your power or gas bill at your house?

The Lieutenant Governor says it's about creating energy for less.

"We want the individual Mississippian to have clean, affordable energy for their lifetime and beyond," Bryant said.

Bryant believes Mississippi will become a nationwide leader in energy production. He sees Mississippi one day exporting bio-fuels, electricity and natural gas, which will also mean more jobs and money for the state.