Governor, energy experts court future energy workers at MSU summit

October 4, 2012 11:00:54 AM



Gov. Phil Bryant labeled the Wednesday event as an opportunity to reach out to the future workforce. 


Mississippi State hosted "Powering Mississippi in the 21st Century," on Wednesday, and Foster Ballroom in the Colvard Student Union was nearly full during the program, most of the seats occupied by students. 


The student crowd was not limited to MSU students, either, with a large turnout from Starkville High School and the Mississippi School for Math and Sciences on hand.  


The students heard from a panel that presented different aspects of the energy industry and consisted of Bryant, Richard Mills of Tellus Operating Group CEO; Stephen Johnston , president of Itron Cellular Solutions; Bob Balzar, TVA vice president of energy efficiency and Haley Fisackerly, president/CEO of Entergy Mississippi. 


During a press conference prior to the program, Bryant, who was recently elected to chair the Southern States Energy Board, said Mississippi is in a spot that could play a key role in helping America's dependence on foreign oil.  


"Mississippi leads the nation in (carbon dioxide) and enhanced oil recovery so the opportunities still remain for hyper carbon fuels for the next 50 years, Shell Gas has changed that dynamic," Bryant said. "In 2011 the Fraiser Institute said we were the best state in the world to invest in the oil and gas industry. Mississippi State students will be apart of that." 


Bryant pointed to Severstal as an example of how the state's attractiveness is paying off. 


"We would have never had the opportunity to bring in Severstal if the cost per kilowatt hour did not factor into that design," he said. "It was remarkably low. We just have to keep bringing companies here that might invest in our universities." 


The Governor admitted that he knew Mississippi was ranked by the Amercian Council for an Energy Efficient Economy as the state that needs the most improvements in energy efficiency. 


"They are absolutely right," he said. "We do more driving per capita than anyone. We need to work harder at conservation and sustainability, not only in the public sector, but a simple conservation of looking at our government buildings and trying to determine how we might smart-meter those."