Meridian, Miss. Controversy tends to surround projects involving energy, including the Kemper County Lignite Plant and the prospect of a nuclear processing site coming to Mississippi. Tuesday morning, former Governor Haley Barbour tried to put some of that controversy to rest at Business Before Hours by explaining the energy plan he put into place while in office.
"We thought diverse fuel use is very important to not become overly reliable on one fuel, but we want American fuel, and we want it at the lowest price we can get it, but we always want to make sure it's available, and that's why you want diversity."
One of the diverse, available, and cheap fuels we have in Mississippi is lignite, which led to the construction of the Kemper County Plant. While Barbour says that he knows the initial rate increases are inconvenient, he says the ones on this project aren't as high as the increases for previous plants, and that over time, customers will get their money back through several different ways.
"Mississippi lignite will be bought from Mississippi landowners. The Carbon Dioxide (the plant will sell to oil companies to pump in the ground) credit worth $2 Billion given to the rate payers, but the last thing, we'll produce about $8 Billion more in oil because of this that will go into the Mississippi economy."
One of the most recent proposals is for a nuclear waste re-purposing site to be built in the state, and while Barbour isn't sure if Mississippi has the correct logistics or geology for it, he says it could be a huge economic boom if it happens.
"It will be a multi-billion dollar project. It will have the highest technology and people will come from all over the world to try to work there."
A first of its kind plant in Columbus that makes fuel out of wood is also currently expanding.