The following guest blog from Karen Bishop, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA’s) Energy and Natural Resources Division, brings a focus on state efforts to incorporate energy-efficiency initiatives that benefit consumers and manufacturers with cost savings, improve the state’s economy, enhance the environment and build energy security.
At a time of uncertainty at the federal level on the issue of energy policy, officials in Mississippi are actively working to advance energy-based economic development initiatives in the state.
In October 2012, Gov. Phil Bryant rolled out his state energy plan, Energy Works: Mississippi’s Energy Roadmap, which outlines a strategy to increase energy-based economic development in the state. The roadmap highlights energy efficiency as a principle area of focus, and under Gov. Bryant’s leadership, the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) Energy and Natural Resources Division has been working to promote energy efficiency with renewed vigor.
Based on the goals and strategies outlined in the Energy Works plan, MDA is promoting energy efficiency in Mississippi in three key areas:
- Lead by Example: It is critical that state agencies lead the charge in pursuing energy efficiency. To this end, MDA is developing an energy management planning guidebook for state agencies, which will include the information and resources needed to develop common-sense energy management plans. These plans will serve as blueprints for future improvements to public buildings and will help state agencies manage their energy usage and costs more effectively. Additionally, MDA is in the process of implementing new energy data management software that will aid state agencies in understanding their usage and help them in the budgeting process. By advancing energy management plans and deploying energy efficient technologies and best practices for state-owned facilities, the state stands to reduce overall energy usage in public buildings and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
- Adoption of Statewide Commercial Energy Building Codes: MDA supports the passage of legislation this year that would set new statewide energy codes for commercial and state-owned buildings. If new statewide energy building codes are adopted, MDA will provide training opportunities to educate localities and businesses on the implementation of these codes and will develop Mississippi-specific implementation programs and materials.
- Energy Efficiency Market Policy/Program Analysis: MDA, through a partnership with the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, will launch a Mississippi-specific energy efficiency market policy/program analysis later this month. This analysis will provide specific energy efficiency program or policy option recommendations that could be implemented through legislative, regulatory or executive action. This analysis will also inform MDA’s position on Mississippi Public Service Commission Docket 2010-AD-2; MDA is an intervener in this docket and has filed comments supporting the adoption of proposed rules that would lead to the implementation of energy efficiency programs and standards in the state.
Mississippi is also working to advance energy efficiency in the state’s Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). In 2012, MDA, in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration’s Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management and IHL, received a $725,000 competitive grant under the DOE’s State Energy Program. This award, the largest in its category for 2012, will be utilized to develop an energy efficiency retrofit strategy for Mississippi’s universities. This important work leverages the ongoing efforts of the IHL Energy Council to reduce energy consumption in our state’s university system.
In summary, there are a number of initiatives underway in Mississippi that will advance energy efficiency in the state. Gov. Bryant, MDA, and our stakeholder partners will continue actively working to advance energy economic development in the state, and we look forward to making cost-saving energy efficiency programs a core component of that strategy.