Innovation a key theme at USM-Gulf Park energy summit

Innovation a key theme at USM-Gulf Park energy summit

Energy is complex.

That’s according to Jay Hakes, a leading American energy expert and author who has studied the sector and documented his results for most of his professional life.

“To try and simplify it, look at energy as a three-legged stool,” said Hakes, who served as part of an expert panel at an energy summit hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus on Sept. 8. “Electricity is the seat, then you have national security, the environment and the economy.”

Those facets of energy were explored by Hakes and the rest of the panel, which included Mississippi Power Public Relations and Corporate Services Vice President Johnny Atherton.

“The future of energy is innovation,” Atherton said. “With energy, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Mississippi Power has a diverse portfolio which includes 21st-century coal, natural gas, traditional coal and renewables. It’s a diverse portfolio that protects our customers from price volatility.”

That sentiment was echoed by Origis Energy’s Johan Vanhee.

“Renewable energy is great, but it doesn’t work just on its own,” he said.

In May, Origis Energy and Mississippi Power broke ground on a 52 MW utility-scale solar facility in Lamar County.

Along with Hakes, Atherton and Vanhee, other panelists included Shadad Naghspour, Gulf Park professor of international development; Alan Sudduth, Chevron’s public and governmental affairs manager; and panel moderator Allen Eickelmann.

Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for more than 186,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power earned the 2015 ReliabilityOneTM Award for outstanding midsize utility for excellence in storm restoration and recovery efforts as well as being a leader in reliability, customer service and safety. Visit our websites atmississippipower.com and mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter,LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.