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AFP: Oil, power, gas heavyweights to attend energy summit
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday announced that an energy summit co-sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council will be held Oct. 22 at Eagle Ridge in Raymond.

The one-day summit, which will be paid for with private funds, will examine energy issues that could be debated by the Legislature in 2009, Bryant said during the Area Development Partnership's First Friday meeting.

The summit will include energy heavyweights University of Mississippi mechanical engineering professor B.K. Hodge, Denbury Resources Chief Executive Officer Gareth Roberts, Mississippi Power Chief Executive Officer Anthony Topazi and Atmos Energy Mississippi Division President David Gates, among others.

The summit also will look at alternative energy sources such as biofuels, solar and wind power.

"We have looked at how to make energy from everything from woodchips to chicken-house debris," Bryant said. "We will talk about alternative fuels, conservation and development of Mississippi's resources."

Bryant said $26.3 billion for energy-related programs will be invested in the state, including a $2 billion planned investment by Mississippi Power and a planned $4 billion from Entergy.

Bryant also announced that Mississippi Power plans to build a 50 megawatt plant in Kemper County that will be powered by lignite, a form of coal. The plant will be adjacent to the mine where the lignite is produced, Bryant said, and the carbon-dioxide waste product from production will be reused as part of a Denbury Resources project at the oilfield at Tinsley Field.

Denbury forces the carbon dioxide into the ground and, because the gas is a solvent for oil, it causes the crude oil to rise in the well.

"Carbon dioxide is the most efficient method of extracting crude oil," Bryant said.

"The only waste product from clean coal is carbon dioxide, and we are going to put that into the ground and get out crude oil."

A new nuclear plant near Port Gibson also is a possibility, Bryant said, although the state faces competition from Arkansas for the project.

"The nuclear power plant is not quite a done deal. Arkansas is fighting hard for it," he said. "We're going to convince them that Mississippi is where it has to be."

The ADP also announced that the launch for the University of Southern Mississippi Innovation and Commercialization Park on Classic Drive will be Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. The day's festivities will include the unveiling of the park's official name, ADP President Angie Godwin said.

"The innovation park will be directly and indirectly involved with the development of energy in Mississippi," said Shelby Thames, polymer science professor at Southern Miss. Thames pushed for the innovation park during his tenure as university president.

"We are going to leave behind the old ways of producing energy as we encourage the new, more efficient ways of producing energy," Thames said.