Latest News

Nuclear Energy Back in Spotlight for Mississippi

Date: June 28, 2024

In an increasingly rare bipartisan vote, the US Senate passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act on Tuesday, legislation that included the text of the ADVANCE Act aimed at spurring new nuclear power generation in America. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 88-2. It previously passed the US House in May by a vote of 393-13, the Magnolia Tribune reports.

Mississippi’s two US Senators and all three Republican Congressmen supported the legislation, while the state’s lone Democrat, Congressman Bennie Thompson, was recorded as not voting.

The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy, or ADVANCE Act is being hailed as one of the most significant pieces of legislation to come out of Congress in recent years as it seeks to encourage more innovation and investment in nuclear technologies.

Simplifying nuclear reactor permitting and deployment is a major part of the legislation as is reenforcing the staff at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) while updating and revising the Commission’s authority and processes.

Nuclear power generation has gained bipartisan support in large part due to it being “clean energy” that is sustainable. Democrats have backed the move as they continue to call for less reliance on coal and natural gas. Republicans largely see it as a reliable option that does not come with the pitfalls associated with other green energy efforts within the Biden Administration’s “climate change” agenda, such as solar or wind.

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Chris Brown (R) told Magnolia Tribune that the three-man Public Service Commission (PSC) is very supportive of efforts to increase nuclear power generation in the state. In fact, the Commission passed a resolution in March voicing their support for the advancement of nuclear energy. Read more.

Hinds County Approves New Solar Farm

Date: June 28, 2024

Despite dozens of protesters filling the Hinds County Board of Supervisors meeting room Monday morning, supervisors approved a solar farm that will be the biggest in the state when completed, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Local residents, mostly from Raymond and Bolton, stood outside the Hinds County Chancery Court with signs opposing the solar farm. Protesters wore green shirts reading "Not In My Backyard" or "NIMBY" and held signs reading "Say No to Big Solar."

The solar farm, which is called Soul City Solar, is being developed by Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Virginia. The farm would produce 396 megawatts of electricity, which is enough for 95,000 homes, on just under 6,000 acres of land near Raymond, Bolton and Clinton.

Apex already has leasing agreements with seven private landowners who own some of the property, including farmland, where the solar farm will be built. Plans are to start construction this year, hoping to finish by 2027. The company estimates it will bring $156 million of local tax revenue over the 30 years the facility plans to be operational, as well as new jobs. Read more.

Beckmann Commits $5M to Ole Miss Engineering School

Date: May 13, 2024

The first female graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Engineering committed a $5 million estate gift to her alma mater for Giving Day 2024, and plans call for the Department of Chemical Engineering to bear her name in honor of the legacy gift.

Barbara Kerr Beckmann, a senior economic adviser for ExxonMobil focusing on planning and optimization, has always been a trailblazer. The company's first female engineer has enjoyed a 63-year career — longer than any other company employee.

"Engineering is about problem-solving, which is one of my major interests," said Beckmann, an Arkansas native who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "I considered going into medicine, but after an assessment, my high school guidance counselor said I did not have the personality for it. My fascination with math and science led to my decision to study engineering. Read more in the Mississippi Business Journal.

Mississippi State University to Launch Electric Shuttle Bus Pilot Program

Date: May 13, 2024

New electric passenger shuttle buses on the Mississippi State campus will be the first of its kind in Mississippi and the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State University will be on the cutting edge of technology, innovation, and research—introducing an electric-autonomous passenger shuttle system pilot program to campus and community this fall. The shuttles, deployed by Beep, Inc., are designed for safety, sustainability, accessibility and efficiency, Magnolia State Live reports.

Two shuttles, each seating up to 11 passengers, including an attendant, are slated to be available for riders in September as part of a pilot project to evaluate how the autonomous vehicles complement other modes of campus transportation. Two routes are planned to shuttle students between the core of campus and key housing points, as well as popular entertainment destinations.

“We are excited to announce this special project which is going through several layers of approval, including the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said Jeremiah Dumas, MSU executive director of transportation. “Safety is the highest priority, as it is with any method of transportation,” he added, explaining the vehicles will not be allowed to operate on roads signed at more than 25 mph and are equipped with AI-enabled remote human supervision and self-governance. Although they will be self-driving, Dumas said each will have a full-time attendant on board. Read more.

Transportation Commission Makes a Case for More Infrastructure Funding

Date: April 22, 2024

The Mississippi Transportation Commission addressed the critical need for new, recurring sources of revenue and warned of the effects of underfunding infrastructure at a press conference on April 10, at the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) administration building, reports. Commissioners say long-term funding sources should be established to help MDOT meet current demands and expand capacity for future transportation needs.

"The money we received recently puts us in a position of investing in Right-of-Way acquisition and design, but we're not going to be able to complete those projects. We need recurring dollars," said Commissioner Willie Simmons. "With inflation going the way it is, if we look in the future, capacity projects that we delay today are only going to cost us more money and delay the process of putting Mississippi where it should be in recruiting industry and maintaining infrastructure."

As vehicles become more fuel efficient and electric vehicle use rises, MDOT's primary source of revenue–the gas tax–is declining. Meanwhile, inflation has driven up costs for materials and labor. Inadequate funding paired with increased costs will create a sizable funding shortfall in the coming years.

While MDOT was fortunate to receive significant funding from state and federal sources in the past few years, those funds are considered "one-time money," not recurring. Several proposals have been made to establish long-term funding sources for MDOT without raising taxes. Proposed new streams of revenue include readdressing the formula for lottery funds, diverting a portion of unobligated funds from the use tax and diverting unobligated funds from gaming revenue. Read more.

MDOT’s Infrastructure Improvement Projects Across Central MS

Date: March 29, 2024

In July 2023, firefighters battled a fire under an I-55 bridge. Now, that bridge has been fully repaired because it is a part of the many infrastructure projects the Mississippi Department of Transportation is working on. The projects’ goal is to improve roads throughout the state, reports.

MDOT provided updates for 13 infrastructure improvement projects that span across central Mississippi. These projects include pavement removal or restoration, mill and overlays, and major road expansions like this one on Highway 19 in Neshoba County.

MDOT Public Information Officer Michael Flood does highlight a growing issue to continue this work... funding. He hopes state leaders find ways to get around that obstacle. “With inflation, construction costs going up, labor costs going up, supply chain issues,” he said. “Funding is something that, you know, we have to work on here and work to find ways, you know, innovative solutions to find diversified revenue streams to come to MDOT without raising taxes. If we don’t find another means to get funding here, we’re gonna have, you know, big maintenance issues coming up down the line.”

Flood is also asking you to keep an eye out for workers during the spring and summer as most of their crews are out then. Read more.

Hy Stor Energy and Schneider Electric Collaborate on Green Hydrogen Production

Date: March 29, 2024

Schneider Electric and Hy Stor Energy recently announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the development of Hy Stor Energy's Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub (MCHH) and its broader US development platform.

In this partnership, Schneider Electric and Hy Stor Energy are solving large-scale energy and sustainability challenges that are required to transition to a renewable and fossil-free energy system, according to a news release.

Under the terms of the MOU, Schneider Electric will provide Hy Stor Energy with automation and safety solutions, AVEVA process operation and AI optimization software, weather analysis, predictive operations, and digital energy management solutions, as well as commissioning, operational analytical tools, and support for those offers.

This project will advance Hy Stor Energy's vision for the MCHH to be the first-of-its-kind in the world, providing reliable zero-carbon hydrogen to customers across a variety of industries. This new collaboration will offer Hy Stor Energy's customers secure, reliable, and affordable green hydrogen with no carbon footprint or methane emissions. Read more.

MDOT Director Looks Down the Road at Infrastructure Funding Needs

Date: February 23, 2024

Mississippi Department of Transportation Director Brad White says an influx of "one-time" state and federal money is allowing the agency to again build and widen roads. But he said the agency needs long-term, steady revenue streams to maintain them once they're built. Get more insight on the state's infrastructure needs in this Mississippi Today podcast.

Mississippi County Launches 2024 Infrastructure Grant Program

Date: February 23, 2024

Mississippi County has announced the launch of its 2024 infrastructure grant program, which will award a total of $750,000 to cities and towns within the county to fund vital water and sewer infrastructure improvements and projects. Applications can be submitted on the county's website, and the deadline to apply is Friday, March 1, at 5 p.m.

"We are pleased to once again have the opportunity to provide the funding to help our cities and towns make much-needed infrastructure improvements to their water and sewer systems," said County Judge John Alan Nelson. "We are eager to see the applications and to identify projects that will improve the quality of life of Mississippi County residents, support our local economy, and help continue our current population growth."

The grants are funded through the American Rescue Plan Act's Coronavirus Local Fiscal Relief Fund, which was signed into law in 2021 and provides each US county with funding to support investments that promote long-term growth and opportunity. Read more in this report.

Mississippi State is Taking Strides Towards Carbon Neutral Goal

Date: February 23, 2024

Mississippi State University, home to the largest undergraduate student body in the state, made strides earlier this month towards its goal of being carbon neutral by 2042, Mississippi Today reports. The school announced on February 6 that it was installing on its campus 3,420 solar panels — which it expects to start generating power by this summer — claiming it as the largest such project among Southeastern Conference colleges.

The project also includes upgrading 54,000 lighting fixtures with LED bulbs. Officials say the additions are a major step in reaching the 2042 goal, which the school set for itself in its 2012 climate action plan.

"We think renewable energy is one of our primary methods of reducing our footprint," Saunders Ramsey, executive director of MSU's Campus Services, told Mississippi Today. "We're doing all we can to be good stewards." Read more.

MDOT Sees ‘Historic’ Year for Infrastructure Funding

Date: January 19, 2024

Leaders with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) said 2023 was a “historic” year for the agency. They said MDOT received record levels of funding to improve and build upon Mississippi’s infrastructure, reports.

From the Mississippi Legislature, MDOT received a total of almost $2 billion, which includes a nearly $1.5 billion earmark-free appropriation as well as a $620 million supplemental appropriation.

“2023 was an exceptional year for MDOT, not only in terms of the historic funding received, but also for our increased commitment to efficiency and the exciting, large projects we have embarked upon,” said Brad White, MDOT Executive Director. “The people of Mississippi will benefit for decades to come from MDOT’s work and funding in 2023. We remain grateful to Congress, the Mississippi Legislature and Governor Tate Reeves for entrusting us with significant funding that allows MDOT to accomplish more.”

According to officials, the $620 million supplemental appropriation from the legislature will pave the way to start work on eight major capacity projects that will increase safety, alleviate congestion, and help grow Mississippi’s economy.

Governor Calls Special Session to Approve Battery Plant Incentives

Date: January 19, 2024

Governor Tate Reeves has called a special session to approve incentives for a battery plant in northern Mississippi that state officials say will have a capital investment of nearly $2 billion and employ 2,000 people, The Center Square reports.

The deal will cost taxpayers $350 million, of which Reeves said half will be spent on infrastructure at the plant and the other half in direct grants to the company. Some of that, the governor said, will come from bonds, but an unspecified amount will come from direct appropriations. According to the governor, the state has $650 million in unallocated money in its general fund that could be used to fund the project.

State officials say the average salary for the jobs at the plant, which will manufacture batteries for electric trucks and industrial applications, is approximately $66,000 or nearly $20,000 more than the average statewide annual salary. Reeves said the project would have the highest payroll of any industrial project in the state's history.

The plant will be located on 500 acres at the Chickasaw Industrial Park in Byhalia. The deal will be the second-largest in state history behind the $2.5 billion Steel Dynamics project announced last year. Read more.

TVA Proposing New Natural Gas Plant in Mississippi

Date: December 19, 2023

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has proposed building a simple cycle combustion turbine (CT) plant at the TVA-owned land known as the New Caledonia (NCG) Site, a brownfield location in Mississippi where a privately-run gas-fired plant operated until 2007, Power Engineering reports.

The NCG Site is an approximately 63-acre existing parcel of federally owned property managed by TVA in Lowndes, Mississippi, located 10 miles northeast of Columbus. The site is a former CT facility, originally constructed in 1998 and operated for several years by a private company. The company dismantled the site in 2007, removing the existing six frame CTs.

The study area for the proposed action is 145 acres and includes the entire proposed combustion turbine property as well as the adjacent substation property, which remains in operation. TVA is considering constructing and operating an approximately 500-MW combustion turbine facility at the same brownfield location as the previous generating facility, which would allow TVA to utilize existing natural gas and transmission infrastructure.

TVA has issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed construction and operation of the plant at the NCG site. TVA is seeking comments from the public on what should be included in the environmental review for the project. Read more.

Upcoming Deadline for Biennial Licensure Renewal Process

Date: December 19, 2023

Effective immediately, the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors has initiated a biennial (every two years) renewal process in connection to changes made to Rules 5.2 and 15.3 of the Rules and Regulations for the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors.

With this change, the board approved a two-phase approach for the renewals. Individuals licensed in odd years will be the first renewed under the new system. Individuals licensed in even years will initially be renewed for one year (and will renew biennial next cycle). Fees for license renewal will double for those who are being licensed for the biennial process. The licensure system will automatically display the applicable renewal fee.

Online licensure renewal for 2024 began on October 1, 2023, and continues through December 31, 2023. Licenses which are not renewed within this time frame will be considered expired, after December 31. Expired license renewals will be accepted through June 30 of the following year (with the appropriate late fee applied).

Email notices about the updated license renewal process were distributed earlier this month. See the notice at this link for additional information.

MSU Officially Opens Nation’s First Agricultural Autonomy Institute

Date: November 13, 2023

The farm of the future is being created at Mississippi State University. MSU officials recently opened the Agricultural Autonomy Institute, the nation’s first and only interdisciplinary research center focused on autonomous technologies to enhance on-farm precision and efficiency.

The Agricultural Autonomy Institute builds on and expands MSU’s longstanding precision agriculture efforts and history of innovation in the field. The institute serves as a hub for researchers across campus interested in technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and remote sensing that have potential to increase agricultural precision, production and profitability.

Alex Thomasson, Agricultural Autonomy Institute director and head of MSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, said autonomous technologies can reduce the impact of labor shortages by making farm workers more efficient with the aid of novel systems.

“Autonomous systems multiply the productivity of a single farm worker such that they can oversee multiple machines and operations simultaneously,” Thomasson said. “Overall, the goal of the institute is economic development. We want to attract agricultural equipment companies, and we want to conduct research that leads to technology-based startup companies. We want to develop a new workforce that will have the ability to work in this new world of robotics, mechatronics, and computer coding. I really hope to see Mississippi become the Silicon Valley of agricultural autonomy.”

The research infrastructure for the institute includes a 4,800-square-foot laboratory space in the Pace Seed Technology Laboratory and a five-acre “Autonomous Acres” proving ground at MSU’s R.R. Foil Plant Science Research Center. The institute is jointly managed by the university’s Office of Research and Economic Development and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, with support from the Bagley College of Engineering, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and other MSU institutes, research centers and departments. Read more.

State Licensing Board Initiates Biennial Renewal Process

Date: November 13, 2023

Effective immediately, the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors has initiated a biennial (every two years) renewal process in connection to changes made to Rules 5.2 and 15.3 of the Rules and Regulations for the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors.

With this change, the board approved a two-phase approach for the renewals. Individuals licensed in odd years will be the first renewed under the new system. Individuals licensed in even years will initially be renewed for one year (and will renew biennial next cycle). Fees for license renewal will double for those who are being licensed for the biennial process. The licensure system will automatically display the applicable renewal fee.

Online licensure renewal for 2024 began on October 1, 2023, and continues through December 31, 2023. Licenses which are not renewed within this time frame will be considered expired, after December 31. Expired license renewals will be accepted through June 30 of the following year (with the appropriate late fee applied).

Email notices about the updated license renewal process were distributed earlier this month. See the notice at this link for additional information.

State Licensing Board Initiates Biennial Renewal Process

Date: October 19, 2023

Effective immediately, the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors has initiated a biennial (every two years) renewal process in connection to changes made to Rules 5.2 and 15.3 of the Rules and Regulations for the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors.

With this change, the board approved a two-phase approach for the renewals. Individuals licensed in odd years will be the first renewed under the new system. Individuals licensed in even years will initially be renewed for one year (and will renew biennial next cycle). Fees for license renewal will double for those who are being licensed for the biennial process. The licensure system will automatically display the applicable renewal fee.

Online licensure renewal for 2024 began on October 1, 2023, and continues through December 31, 2023. Licenses which are not renewed within this time frame will be considered expired, after December 31. Expired license renewals will be accepted through June 30 of the following year (with the appropriate late fee applied).

Email notices about the updated license renewal process were distributed earlier this month. See the notice at this link for additional information.

Construction Begins on New Energy Storage Facilities in Mississippi

Date: October 19, 2023

The first of three Origis Energy projects that combine for 550 MW of solar and 150 MW of energy storage have begun construction in Mississippi. The projects are expected to deliver electricity to customers in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) service territory, PV Magazine reports.

Golden Triangle I is a 200 MWac project with 50 MW of battery storage, expected to be completed in summer 2024. Golden Triangle II, a 150 MWac project contains 50 MW of battery storage, planned to be complete in spring 2024. These projects are located in Lowndes County, Mississippi. The third phase is called Optimist, and this 200 MWac project with 50 MW battery storage is located in Clay County and has a projected completion date of mid-2025.

The utility-scale battery storage for each site is provided by Mitsubishi Power Americas. About 1.5 million solar modules will be installed on the sites, which are expected to generate the equivalent electricity of the demand of 126,000 homes.

Origis Energy is the developer, construction firm, and operator of the solar and storage assets. The projects will deliver electricity to TVA via power purchase agreements. Read more.

Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub Could Improve Energy Security

Date: September 21, 2023

Hy Stor Energy is one company taking advantage of the new green hydrogen boost, with plans to build a hydrogen hub in Mississippi, dubbed the Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub (MCHH).

The hub is touted as a means to improve energy security in the United States and abroad. Europe, in particular, is facing an energy crisis and rising energy costs, brought on by volatility in the fossil fuel markets and worsened by the conflict in Ukraine. The MCHH is located in a good location to provide energy to large industrial and transportation customers across the Gulf Coast, according to Rocky Mountain Institute, which published a case study about the MCHH and the impact of storing green hydrogen on energy security.

Hy Stor Energy submitted its application for the hydrogen hub to the Department of Energy earlier this year, asking for a strategic federal investment of $1 billion. The DOE has plans to distribute more than $9.5 billion in federal funding to support clean hydrogen market formation across the United States, according to RMI.

Beyond energy security in the US and even potentially exporting green hydrogen to Europe, the MCHH, the hub has the potential to provide energy across industries in the US.

“Across the Gulf Coast and the Southeast, the hub could potentially offer backup fuel and feedstock to 52% of US refining, 44% of US shipping, 19% of US steelmaking, and 17% of US heavy-duty trucking capacity,” the report said. “With access to the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic, the hub could provide energy to an additional 22% of refining, 21% of shipping, 74% of steelmaking and 44% of trucking.”

In addition, the hub can store green hydrogen that could provide future energy security and attract new manufacturing to the area. Read more of this analysis in Environment + Energy Leader.

Mississippi State Partners with Korea Institute of Science and Technology

Date: September 21, 2023

Mississippi State University leaders are marking a new partnership with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

A delegation from the Korean research institute is in Starkville this week to explore potential collaborations and learn more about MSU’s capabilities, particularly related to advanced composite materials. The two institutions held a ceremonial signing for a memorandum of understanding to promote education and research collaborations.

“It is exciting to showcase our capabilities in advanced composite materials with a leading international institute in this field,” said MSU Advanced Composites Institute Director Chris Bounds. “While we have many personal connections between KIST and MSU, more importantly, we have a shared appreciation of the societal value of using composite materials to improve products in several key industries and strengthen domestic manufacturing.” Read more.

Commissioners Award $11.6M in Transportation Grants

Date: August 17, 2023

The Mississippi Transportation Commission recently distributed approximately $11.6 million in grants for multimodal transportation projects throughout the state, the Mississippi Business Journal reports.

The awards, announced on July 13, come from the state's Multimodal Transportation Improvement Fund. The fund was established by legislators in 2002. It is controlled by the state's three transportation commissioners, who may use its funds to improve airports, public ports, railroads and transit systems. Ports can receive up to 38% of the funding, with airports receiving up to 34%; transit systems, up to 16%; and railroads, up to 12%.

Grantees must apply for the funds. Applications are received and reviewed by a committee specific to each mode of transportation. These committees then make funding recommendations to the commission. Each commissioner represents a broad geographic district. The state's transportation districts are called the northern, central, and southern districts.

The approximately $11.6 million in funds were split between the three districts, with the northern district receiving approximately $5.3 million; the central district, approximately $2.9 million; and the southern district, approximately $3.4 million. Read more.

MDOT to Host Job Fair in Newton

Date: August 17, 2023

The Mississippi Department of Transportation will have an on-site job fair on Wednesday, August 30 (from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at its district office in Newton, 7759 Hwy. 80 West. There will be on-site interviews for available jobs in transportation infrastructure, maintenance, and engineering, reports. For more information on career opportunities access the MDOT website or call 601-683-3341.

Amazon Backs Mississippi’s First Utility-Scale Wind Farm

Date: July 20, 2023

Amazon is backing a growing number of new renewable energy projects across Mississippi that will provide clean electricity to power local homes and businesses, create jobs, drive economic development, and also help power the company’s local operations, which include fulfillment and sortation centers, delivery stations, and a Whole Foods Market location.

Amazon’s newest project, the Delta wind farm, is an 184.5 MW project under construction in Tunica County, which will be the first utility-scale wind farm in the state, reports.

This new project brings Amazon to six renewable energy projects in Mississippi, including five solar farms. Once fully operational, the six projects are expected to generate more than 1,850 gigawatt-hours (GWH) of clean energy, the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 174,600 US homes each year. Read more.

Mississippi Receives $1.2B for Broadband Expansion

Date: July 20, 2023

The state of Mississippi will receive $1.2 billion from the federal government to expand broadband service to unserved and underserved parts of the Magnolia State, The Center Square reports.

The funds will be used to connect up to 300,000 unserved and 200,000 underserved locations that do not have high-speed internet service. The amount of funds Mississippi will receive is due to the number of areas that need service and the cost of providing service to those areas.

“I’m proud of the work we’re doing to improve our residents’ connectivity," Governor Tate Reeves said in a news release. “People want to live in areas where they can access broadband and that are connected. That’s why we’ll continue to aggressively build out broadband infrastructure to every region of our state, so all Mississippians can harness the opportunities technology provides them.”

The money, which originates from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program established through the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, will be administered through a competitive grant process by the newly-created Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi. Read more.

City of Jackson Awarded $115 Million for Water Infrastructure Projects

Date: June 17, 2023

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that the City of Jackson, Mississippi, will receive $115 million to support critical water infrastructure investments that will help ensure safe and reliable drinking water for residents, according to a news release.

This funding is part of the $600 million in disaster supplemental funding for the City of Jackson under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, or bipartisan 2023 federal budget. This initial $115 million award to the Jackson Public Water System will be used to stabilize and rebuild the city’s water infrastructure. These activities include identifying and fixing leaks in the distribution system, developing a system-wide assessment of valves and hydrants, ensuring adequate pumping capacity to maintain water pressure and distribution, and developing a system stabilization and sustainability plan. Read more.

MSU Breaks Ground on New High Performance Computing Data Center

Date: June 17, 2023

Mississippi State University officials recently celebrated the beginning of construction for the new High Performance Computing Data Center in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. The 35,000-square-foot, $45 million building will further expand MSU’s nationally recognized capabilities in high performance computing, according to a news release.

“[This] marks an important step for the future of our university and our state as we build the kind of facility that can keep us at the forefront of high performance computing for years to come,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. Read more.

Yazoo River Flood Control Project to Be Resurrected

Date: May 17, 2023

The US Army Corps of Engineers is looking at a plan to prevent annual flooding in the Yazoo River basin that will include resurrecting a massive pump project that has been on the Corps' wish list since 1941, The Center Square reports.

The Corps’ Vicksburg Office and the US Environmental Protection Agency held several public meetings on Thursday and Friday to reveal their plan to deal with the annual flooding. The agencies will receive public comments until June 5 before the plan is finalized on June 30.

The key part of that plan – which also includes modifications to the Steele Bayou floodgate, property buyouts, ring levees and elevating some homes – is the construction of large pumps on Steele Bayou to drain floodwater from land between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers during floods on the Mississippi River. The pumps proposed in the new plan would have 25,000 cubic feet of floodwater per second capacity, larger than the original project's 14,000 CFS capacity. Read more.

Federal Funds Could Help Create a Green Hydrogen Hub in Mississippi

Date: May 17, 2023

Hy Stor Energy recently took the next step to develop a large-scale hydrogen production and storage hub in Mississippi, the Sun Herald reports. The company said in a press release it submitted an application to the US Department of Energy for funding of the operation that would generate zero emission hydrogen energy and create hundreds of jobs.

The funding would come through DOE’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub initiative. Federal investment of up to $1 billion would push Hy Stor Energy’s development plans into a multi-billion-dollar project, the company said, and establish Mississippi as one of the nation’s largest producers of clean hydrogen. Ground breaking could come as early as this year. Based in Jackson and with an office in Gulfport, Hy Stor has acquired over 70,000 acres from Jackson south to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to be used for green energy production. Read more.

Governor Signs $74 Million Rural Water Infrastructure Bill

Date: April 19, 2023

Governor Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1715 into law on April 14, directing $74 million to rural water infrastructure improvements, reports.

The funds will be allocated to the Mississippi State Department of Health to help fund the ARPA Rural Water Associations Infrastructure Grant Program. The program assists rural water associations with the construction of eligible drinking water projects.

This follows the $300 million invested into the program last year through House Bills 1538 and 1421.

Mississippi Approves Nearly $2 Billion for MDOT Projects

Date: April 19, 2023

The Mississippi Legislature voted to fund nearly $2 billion in state infrastructure projects through the Mississippi Department of Transportation, according to a Transportation Today report.

MDOT received $1.5 billion earmark-free appropriations as well as a $620 million supplemental appropriation, the department said. The additional funding will be spent on major construction projects, emergency road and bridge repairs, and multimodal projects like ports, railroads, and airports.

“I thank the Mississippi Legislature for providing MDOT consequential funding not seen since the 1987 Highway Bill,” said Brad White, MDOT’s executive director. “An earmark-free appropriation will allow the agency more flexibility to maximize federal funds and make prudent use of taxpayer dollars. Rest assured that with the trust bestowed upon the agency by the legislature, the men and women of MDOT are up to the task and ready to get to work for the people of the state.” Read more.

Governor Signs Bill to Regulate Electric Distribution Infrastructure

Date: March 16, 2023

A bill that would require transmission infrastructure built in Mississippi by out-of-state contractors to comply with state regulations was recently signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves, The Center Square reports.

Reeves signed into law Senate Bill 2341, which will go into effect on July 1. The bill, authored by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joel Carter (R-Gulfport), would require the construction of transmission infrastructure in the state involved in a regional transmission organization to be compliant with regulations for both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state’s elected Public Service Commission.

Only two utilities in Mississippi would be affected by the investor-owned Entergy, which also serves Arkansas, Louisiana, and part of east Texas, and Cooperative Energy, which is a nonprofit electric power association or electric cooperative regulated by the commission. Both utilities are members of the regional transmission operator Midcontinent Independent System Operator, better known as MISO. Read more.

The NASA Economic Impact on Mississippi

Date: March 16, 2023

NASA has a unique mission that provides benefits in big and small ways as funding spent for space exploration create jobs, jumpstarts businesses, and grows the economy. NASA’s economic impact is nationwide, but how does Mississippi benefit?

Mississippi is home to the Stennis Space Center. There are 261 NASA federal jobs and 3,396 contractors in the state. For every NASA federal job located in Mississippi, an additional 18.9 jobs are supported in the state economy. For every million dollars’ worth of economic output generated by NASA federal jobs, an additional $5.8 million worth of output is sustained throughout the state economy. Read more.

Widen I-10

Date: February 13, 2023

The Mississippi Department of Transportation was recently awarded a $60 million grant from the National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program, also known as the “Mega” grant program, to support a project to widen a section of I-10. A competitive grant, the project was one of only nine to receive funding from hundreds of applications submitted across the country. Created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the grant will be administered by the US Department of Transportation.

“This funding and the project it supports will have a huge positive impact on South Mississippi residents and the 51,000 vehicles that travel I-10 each day,” Tom King, chair of the Mississippi Transportation Commission, stated in a news release. “This project will strengthen access to southern cities across the entire Gulf Coast region, providing greater opportunities for economic development as well as a more efficient flow of goods and services.”

The grant funding will support a widening project on I-10 that will involve expanding the interstate from four to six lanes starting just west of Diamondhead to just east of County Farm Road in Harrison County where an existing 6-lane segment ends. Other components of the project include intelligent transportation system improvements, construction of a sound wall in the Diamondhead area, and drainage improvements. Read more.

USACE Enters Project Partnership Agreement with City of Jackson

Date: February 13, 2023

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District entered into a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) with the City of Jackson, Mississippi, as part of the Environmental Infrastructure Program (Section 219) as authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1992.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba and Col. Christopher Klein, Vicksburg District commander, signed the agreement during a ceremony at city hall on February 6. “We are committed to delivering vital solutions in collaboration with our partners,” Col. Klein stated in a news release. “Through the Section 219 program, we are able to work together, with the City of Jackson, to provide water and wastewater infrastructure improvements to the community.”

Congress has authorized $125 million for improvements to the City of Jackson’s water system infrastructure. To date, the Vicksburg District has received $25 million, and the other $100 million is to be subsequently appropriated. The first increment of work will be the purchase of a 100 million gallon per day pump at the Savanna Street Wastewater Treatment Plant. Future projects will be determined by the City of Jackson subject to federal law and regulation. Read more.

New Company Will Bring Zero-Emission Energy to Mississippi

Date: January 20, 2023

Hy Stor Energy is building a green hydrogen hub in Mississippi that will generate zero emission hydrogen energy while also creating a new industry with hundreds of jobs and economic growth for the area, the Sun Herald reports.

The project will be the largest of its kind in the United States, and will produce clean energy at scale that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels in industries that are hard to decarbonize. Hy Stor is Jackson-based but has land across the state, all the way down to their office in Gulfport. The company has acquired over 70,000 acres from Jackson south to the Gulf Coast, which will be used for green hydrogen energy production and storage. Read more.

Licensing Board Issues Grants to University Programs

Date: January 20, 2023

The Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors received legislative approval (HB1690) to offer one-time grants for state programs providing qualifying education in engineering and surveying leading to professional licensure. The board issued a call for grant applications for its 2023 award season to all colleges and / or universities actively operating in Mississippi with a qualifying engineering and /or surveying program as of October 2022, according to a news release.

The board awarded grants to the following programs

  • The Department of Civil Engineering at Jackson State University - $33,026.
  • The Engineering Technology program at East Central Community College - $38,000
  • The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Mississippi State University - $117,789.
  • The Polymer Science and Engineering program at the University of Southern Mississippi - $49,335.
  • The University of Mississippi - $147,909 for the following departments: the Department of Electrical Engineering ($30,000); the Department of Geology & Geological Engineering ($37,500); and the Department of Mechanical Engineering ($17,834; $22,575 and $40,000, respectively).

Year One of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Date: December 15, 2022

The Biden Administration recently updated state and territory fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. To date, over $2.1 billion in funding has been announced and is headed to Mississippi with over 140 specific projects identified for funding. Access information about Mississippi projects here.

Denbury and Weyerhaeuser Announce Agreement for Mississippi CO2 Sequestration Site

Date: December 15, 2022

Denbury Inc. and Weyerhaeuser Company recently announced an agreement for the evaluation and potential development of a CO2 sequestration site in Mississippi. The lease agreement provides Denbury with the exclusive right to develop and operate approximately 16,000 acres of subsurface pore space owned by Weyerhaeuser in Simpson and Copiah Counties in Mississippi, according to a news release.

The site is located directly adjacent to Denbury’s NEJD Pipeline in Mississippi, approximately 35 miles south of the company’s Jackson Dome field. Denbury is planning to utilize the site to permanently sequester industrial CO2 in secure underground geologic formations. Weyerhaeuser will continue to manage the timberland acreage as a sustainable working forest.

Denbury estimates the site will have total sequestration capacity of approximately 275 million metric tons of CO2. The site represents Denbury’s first planned CO2 sequestration location in Mississippi, expanding its storage portfolio that already includes sites along the U.S. Gulf Coast in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. Denbury intends to drill a stratigraphic test well on the site in 2023 to support the Company’s geologic interpretation and progress Class VI permitting with the EPA. Read more.

Manufacturing Facility Expansion Will Bring Jobs to Jackson Region

Date: November 16, 2022

Menasha Packaging, a retail-focused packaging design, manufacturing, and merchandising solutions provider, is expanding operations in Pelahatchie. The project is a $79 million corporate investment, reports.

Menasha’s products include high-graphic displays, boxes, and other shipping containers used primarily by consumer product companies. Menasha’s investment includes the expansion of its present manufacturing facility in Pelahatchie Industrial Park and the purchase of additional machinery and equipment.

The Mississippi Development Authority will help with construction. Rankin County and the city of Pelahatchie also are assisting with the project.

Bollinger Shipyards Acquires Space, Combines Workforces

Date: November 16, 2022

Bollinger Shipyards has acquired VT Halter Marine, Inc. and ST Engineering Halter Marine Offshore, combining its workforces in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The acquisition includes 378 acres comprising two shipyards in Pascagoula and two dormant yards north of Pascagoula. The newly acquired yards have been renamed Bollinger Mississippi Shipbuilding and Bollinger Mississippi Repair. The Pascagoula facilities are strategically located with direct, deep-water access to the Gulf of Mexico and house corporate office space, engineering, fabrication, warehousing, and a foreign trad e zone.

“The addition of the newly acquired yards in Pascagoula, Mississippi is strategic as it further strengthens Bollinger’s position in the industry and US defense industrial base by increasing capacity and footprint, improving efficiencies, enhancing economies of scale, and building a larger skilled workforce, including increased engineering capacity,” the company said in a news release.

$712.5 Million in Infrastructure Funds Coming to Mississippi

Date: October 20, 2022

More than $712 million has been released to Mississippi for 12 formula programs to support investment in critical infrastructure. The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration made the announcement on October 12, WLBT3 reports.

That includes roads, bridges and tunnels, carbon emission reduction, and safety improvements utilizing funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The funds come directly to Mississippi to rebuild roads and bridges and to make the state’s transportation system more efficient.

In Fiscal Year 2023, Mississippi will receive a total of $45 million in Bridge Formula funding to address highway bridge needs. The funding is available to improve the condition of about 1,095 bridges in poor condition and to preserve and improve about 6,025 bridges in fair condition in the state that are at risk of falling into poor condition.

The state will get more than $3.8 million for the Railway-Highway Crossings Program and more than $10.7 million for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program.

Choctaw Center for Construction Ed Receives Funding

Date: October 20, 2022

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has been awarded a $5.8 million grant for the construction of an advanced workforce training center, the Clarion Ledger reports.

The newly funded facility will benefit the community by providing welding, computer IT, and other skills training courses. It will also provide more space for existing programs that need more space.

“As of today, our National Center for construction education and research offers HVAC, electrical and industrial maintenance to tribal employees with very little room, but the goal is to expand with the new center,” said Anna Denson, project manager of economic development.

The facility is expected to be complete in about a year, officials say.

DOE Supporting Energy Research at a Mississippi University

Date: September 23, 2022

The Department of Energy has awarded Jackson State University with approximately $750k in funding to support energy-related research projects.

Projects across the country were chosen based on competitive peer review under a DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Building EPSCoR-State/National Laboratory Partnerships.

"Jackson State's skilled researchers are an important part of Mississippi's future. The Department of Energy's award is a testament to their hard work and talent," said US Senator Roger F. Wicker. "I look forward to further investment in Mississippi’s research community through the EPSCOR program, including Congressionally-appropriated funding recently approved for the National Science Foundation."

The DOE EPSCoR program is managed by the Department’s Office of Science through its Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Read more.

Free Electric Vehicle Chargers Installed in Laurel

Date: September 23, 2022

The city of Laurel and Mississippi Power recently partnered to install four Level II electric vehicle chargers that will be free for drivers to use, according to WDAM 7.

"Electrification is the future, and we are proud to support our local communities to help them become more accessible for EV drivers," said Mississippi Power Area Manager Joe Cole.

Mississippi Power has also partnered with other cities across the state to support the installation of new chargers and are exploring additional locations for four more Level II chargers in the Laurel area.

River Commission Inspection, Public Meetings Scheduled

Date: August 17, 2022

The Mississippi River Commission will conduct its annual low-water inspection trip on the Mississippi River, Aug. 22 – 26, 2022. Four public meetings are scheduled aboard the Motor Vessel "Mississippi" in selected towns along the river. A meeting in Vicksburg, Mississippi, will take place on Wednesday, August 24, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at City Front.

Commission members will meet with local partners, stakeholders and residents and hear their concerns, ideas, and issues. Interested parties are invited to present their views on matters affecting the water resources infrastructure needs in the valley, including flood control, the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, and other water resources challenges.

Additional meetings will be held in Tiptonville, Tennessee (Riverside Park) on August 22; Memphis, Tennessee (Beale Street Landing) on August 23; and Morgan City, Louisiana (Port Commission Dock) on August 26.

Mississippi Company Commits to Green Hydrogen Standard

Date: August 17, 2022

Hy Stor Energy, a company pioneering renewably produced green hydrogen and energy storage at scale in Mississippi, has partnered with the Green Hydrogen Organisation to become the first company in North America to advocate for the GH2 Green Hydrogen Standard, according to a release from the company. By committing to this standard, which is the first of its kind globally,

Hy Stor Energy will produce hydrogen with 100% or near 100% renewable energy with close to zero greenhouse gas emissions for its Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub and all future projects.

The goal of establishing a standard for green hydrogen production is to help rapidly decarbonize hard to abate sectors such as steel, cement, maritime shipping, and aviation to meet urgent net zero and decarbonization goals. Green hydrogen projects that meet the GH2 Standard will be licensed to use the label "GH2 Green Hydrogen" and will be eligible to obtain and trade GH2 certificates of origin for green hydrogen and derivatives such as green ammonia.

Also, the company said, the use of green hydrogen (that which has been produced using only renewable materials) avoids the addition of more carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere.

Net Metering Deal Sweetened for Home, Business Owners

Date: July 20, 2022

To encourage the growth of renewable energy production in the state, the Mississippi Public Utilities Commission has added a new rebate and low-income credits to its net metering rule, Mississippi Today reports.

Residents and small business owners who purchase rooftop solar or other green energy-generating systems will receive a $3,500 rebate. Also, households earning up to 250% of the federal poverty level will receive higher payments.

Mississippi has the second lowest number of participants out of any state with a net metering law. Its net metering program, which began in 2015, received criticism early on because its original model did not pay residents retail rates for the energy generated.

Entergy Consolidating Three Facilities in $30 Million Project

Date: July 20, 2022

Entergy Mississippi has purchased a former Primos manufacturing facility in Flora. The company is spending $30 million to renovate the 102,700-square-foot building, where operations are expected to begin in June 2023, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

Entergy will move 44 employees to the new location, which also includes 10 acres for materials storage and another 25 acres in the Flora Industrial Park. An additional 37 remote contract employees will use the location as a home base.

The new building will replace three separate facilities, which house the company’s transmission line department, substation operations department, and the central Mississippi substation maintenance department for the Jackson metropolitan area.

Flora has seen a resurgence of development in its downtown area recently, with multiple new businesses opening and residential construction planned.

Construction of Largest Solar Plant in Mississippi Complete

Date: June 16, 2022

Recurrent Energy, LLC has completed the construction of a 100-megawatt renewable solar power plant near Ruleville in the Mississippi Delta, providing clean energy to Entergy Mississippi’s 461,000 customers. The Sunflower Solar Station is the largest solar installation in Mississippi and provides enough energy to power 16,000 homes, according to PV Magazine

Recurrent Energy developed and built the Sunflower Solar Station for Entergy Mississippi, which will own it for the life of the facility. The Sunflower project is one of the first utility-scale solar projects to be constructed under a Build Transfer Agreement in the United States.

Recurrent Energy signed a BTA with Entergy Mississippi in 2018 designating the regulated utility to own the Sunflower project when it reached commercial operation. The BTA was approved unanimously by the Mississippi Public Service Commission in April 2020.

MDOT Plans to Improve EV Charging Access

Date: June 16, 2022

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is developing a plan to ensure all Mississippian's and visitors have access to the electric vehicle charging infrastructure with a focus on the connectivity of rural and urban areas. The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program is providing dedicated funding to the state's EV charging infrastructure and establish a more interconnected network to facilitate data collection, access, and reliability. Funding under this program is initially directed to designated Alternative Fuel Corridors for electric vehicles to build out this national network, particularly along the Interstate Highway System.

To receive the allocated funds, MDOT must submit an EV infrastructure Deployment Plan by August 1, 2022, to FHWA describing our goals and how it intends to use the funds. The deployment plan will include charging infrastructure deployment, existing and future conditions, contracting, implementation, and program evaluation along with documentation of state agency coordination, stakeholder outreach, and public engagement. Overall, the plan will address statewide connectivity and the deployment of EV charging infrastructure along the interstate system to ensure reliable travel across the state.

MDOT is soliciting public comments on the plan. Comments must be received by July 15.

EPA Proposes Adding Hattiesburg Plant to Superfund List

Date: May 18, 2022

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing adding a defunct chemical plant in Hattiesburg to its Superfund priority list. At the site, Hercules Inc. produced various chemicals for decades, such as paints, varnishes, and pesticides. Since the facility closed in 2009, multiple EPA inspections have found toxic levels of dozens of chemicals such as benzene in groundwater there, according to Mississippi Today.

The public is invited to submit comments through June 16, 2022, at Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. All comments MUST include the docket number EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0191.

Mississippi Airports to Receive $15 Million for Enhancements

Date: May 18, 2022

The Federal Aviation Administration is funding $15 million in improvements for 29 airports across the state, according to magnoliastatelive.

“Local airports, which support jobs and bolster economies, require regular rehabilitation, construction, and safety projects,” said US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.

The grants come from the Airport Improvement Program, including entitlement and appropriated funding. The projects will include runway and taxiway reconstruction and repair, navigational aids, lighting and fencing upgrades, control tower improvements, drainage projects, and more.

Ridgeland PE Graduates from NSPE Emerging Leaders Program

Date: April 14, 2022

Jennifer Sloan Ziegler, Ph.D., P.E.

Civil engineer Jennifer Sloan Ziegler, Ph.D., P.E., of Ridgeland, Miss., is a member of NSPE’s 2021 Class of Emerging Leaders. The latest session of the Emerging Leaders Program began in August 2021 and concluded in February.

Sloan Ziegler works as a project manager for Cypress Environment & Infrastructure, a small woman-owned business based in Ocean Springs, Miss. The company specializes in engineering, planning, and environmental science in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic region. She says her employment provides her with opportunities for ownership, professional growth, client and team development, and project management much earlier than for some of her counterparts at larger firms. Read more.

Lawmakers End 2022 Session with Historic Spending Spree

Date: April 14, 2022

Earlier this month, state legislators appropriated historic amounts of funds for various categories in order to improve the health, safety, and lives of residents, including:

  • $1.51 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds on a litany of items ranging from helping to repair or improve local water and sewer systems to tourism enhancement to propping up state agencies facing lawsuits because of substandard conditions.
  • More than $900 million in surplus funds on hundreds of projects, including small projects such as courthouse repairs across the state, construction (on public buildings, including schools, state office buildings and community college and universities and more) and road and bridge repairs.
“So many of our communities across Mississippi have multimillion-dollar water and sewer challenges which have health, safety, economic, and other consequences. These funds will help these communities begin the process of addressing these concerns resulting in a better quality of life for our citizens,” Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said, as quoted by Mississippi Today.

Funding Comes Through for Multiple State Infrastructure Projects

Date: March 14, 2022

Bipartisan legislation has passed that will fund water infrastructure projects in Mississippi, including $370 million for Mississippi River and Tributaries projects and $4 million for the City of Jackson to make repairs and improvements to the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant, according to a news release from US Senator Roger Wicker.

Also provided is $16.64 million for Mississippi infrastructure and facility improvements, including:

  • Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport;
  • Laurel Hattiesburg Regional Airport;
  • Star Landing Road in DeSoto County;
  • Beatline Parkway in Long Beach;
  • Bozeman-Reunion Crossing Interchanges in Madison;
  • East Brandon Bypass in Rankin County, Gateway Harbor in Long Beach;
  • Rust College;
  • Mississippi Water and Wastewater Workforce and Public Safety Training Center; and
  • Greenville Federal Courthouse in Greenville.

Largest School District Solar Array in the State Powers On

Date: March 14, 2022

Lauderdale County School District partnered with Entegrity to power up the largest on-site solar array at a Mississippi school district. The array at Northeast Middle School was turned on at a community celebration earlier this month, Solar Power World reported.

Under the partnership, energy saving measures were also put into place, including district-wide upgrades, including LED lighting, HVAC upgrades, security system updates, and water conservation efforts. The solar array will harness enough energy to offset roughly 35% of school’s energy consumption and save the school district approximately $30,000 annually.

Mississippi Issues RFP for Solar Power

Date: February 16, 2022

The utility Mississippi Power has issued a request for proposal for approximately 200 megawatts of solar photovoltaic projects. According to the RFP, the utility requires that proposals include a 25-year energy-only power purchase agreement. Projects must be within the state of Mississippi. Applications are due March 15, 2022.

State Invests Millions in Site Development to Facilitate New Business

Date: February 16, 2022

The state of Mississippi is investing $25 million in site development, Governor Tate Reeves announced in early February. The grant funds were made available through the Mississippi Development Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission and the RESTORE Act to assist local economic development entities in their efforts to spur economic growth, according to an article by the AP.

Sites are designated into three funding levels: Select, premier, and ready sites. The designation depends on their size and capacity, and they are awarded grant funds accordingly.

“By investing in these sites today, we are laying a foundation upon which companies can quickly locate, expand, and create jobs for future generations of Mississippians,” Reeves said.

Port Work Will Have Economic Benefits

Date: January 18, 2022

US Department of Transportation funding for port work in Mississippi is expected to benefit the state economy, the AP reports.

The state received $8 million from the DOT’s Port Infrastructure Development Program, which is intended to improve the nation’s supply chain. Construction of the Port Rail Spur Connector Project around the Port of Aberdeen will connect the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Kansas City Southern Railroad. This should help to spur the economy in the northeastern part of Mississippi.

Another $4 million is to be spent on the Port Bienville Railroad Intermodal Yard Project, which will increase the yard capacity by 25% and reduce congestion. Find out more.

Southern Energy to Drill in Lawrence County

Date: January 18, 2022

Southern Energy has received drilling permits for three horizontal wells targeting natural gas in the Selma Chalk Formation in Central Mississippi. The wells will be drilled from a single surface pad location at the company’s Gwinville asset in Lawrence County.

Southern is partnering with Energy Drilling Company to use its rig on the project. The state’s natural gas production has declined over the last decade, falling to less than half its 2009 output in 2019, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

BP Oil Spill Money to Fund Artificial Reefs, Protect Coastal Habitats

Date: December 15, 2021

Mississippi will receive $27 million in BP oil spill settlement money as part of restitution fines for damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 and will fund measures to prevent future damage to natural resources. The money will support the expansion of and plans for future enhancements of artificial reefs across the Mississippi Sound and restore and protect vulnerable coastal habitats along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Infrastructure Law Funds Bridge and Road Repair, Transportation Upgrades

Date: December 15, 2021

The bipartisan infrastructure law will pay to repair and rebuild roads and bridges in Mississippi, with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. In Mississippi, there are 1,386 bridges and over 5,840 miles of highway in poor condition, according to the Department of Transportation. The state is expected to receive approximately $3.6 billion over five years in federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges.

In addition, $218 million over five years will be spent on improving public transportation in Mississippi. Funding will also cover modernization of freight rail, increased EV charging options, airport improvements, and other infrastructure updates.

Power Company Implodes Major Symbol of Carbon Capture in the US

Date: November 17, 2021

The Kemper project, which comprised half of a multimillion-dollar power plant in Mississippi and was a major symbol of carbon capture in the US, was imploded last month to eliminate equipment that was no longer needed, Energywire reports. The facility, Plant Ratcliffe, was run by Southern Mississippi Co., and the project was originally intended to be the first commercial-scale carbon capture venture on a large coal plant. Increased costs and delays caused the state to pivot and say the facility could run on natural gas alone in 2017. Construction of the carbon capture portion of the plan was halted.

However, in a sign of continued efforts toward capturing carbon last year, the Department of Energy funded a $23.5 million study on the feasibility of storing carbon dioxide from three of Southern’s power pla 17nts in Alabama and Mississippi. This could include capturing carbon from natural gas burned at Kemper, in theory.

Green Hydrogen Hub Coming to Mississippi

Date: November 17, 2021

Hy Stor Energy, with partner Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure, plans to develop, commercialize, and operate large-scale, long-duration hydrogen hubs that will serve as a model for the nation’s green hydrogen development efforts. The first major project, the Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub, is under development and has multiple sites permitted for hydrogen storage.

The planned scale of the hub is up to 10 times larger than any other green hydrogen project under consideration in the US and would be one of the largest in the world. During its first phase, it is expected to produce an estimated 110 million kg of green hydrogen annually and store more than 70 million kg of green hydrogen in its underground salt caverns. Pending regulatory approvals and equipment availability, the hub’s first phase is planned to enter commercial service by 2025.

Levee Board Gains Authority in Yazoo Backwater Pump Project

Date: October 19, 2021

The Mississippi Levee Board has been given the authority to intervene in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency regarding a pumping plant to be constructed in the Yazoo Backwater area, according to The Vicksburg Post. The project is to be implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers to alleviate flooding on primarily agricultural flatlands in between the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers.

Environmental groups brought the lawsuit last spring, citing concerns about draining ecologically rich wetlands and alleged violation of environmental laws. Critics also argue draining the delta would result in flooding near Vicksburg.

The Yazoo Backwater area was covered in water for 219 days following a major flood in 2019. More than 548,000 total acres were flooded and waters reached a record 98.2 feet. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. The area has flooded nine out of the past ten years, the AP reports. The pump project has been caught up in the legal battle for nine months.

Energy Efficiency Program Funds Upgrades, Improves Worker Conditions

Date: October 19, 2021

The Mississippi Development Authority is accepting grant applications for the 2021 Mississippi Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, which is made possible through approximately $400,000 in State Energy Program funds from the US Department of Energy, reports.

MIEEP is designed to assist Mississippi companies with making energy-efficient upgrades to their facilities to reduce energy consumption and operating costs, as well as assist industries in creating and retaining jobs. Another goal is improved competitiveness and economic growth in the state. Funds are available under MIEEP for the purchase and installation of energy efficiency improvements to private entities. It is a competitive grant program and not all applicants receive funding.

Eligible energy retrofits include: lighting, water heating and energy systems control, as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning projects, among others. Grant awards are offered up to 50% of total project costs, with the award not to exceed $50,000. The minimum grant award is $15,000.

Grid Experts Grapple with ‘Resilience’ in Ida’s Wake

Date: September 10, 2021

The widespread destruction left by Hurricane Ida after the storm plowed into Louisiana and headed up the East Coast made one thing clear: There’s more work to be done in building a resilient power grid, reports E&E News. But how might solutions differ from New Orleans to New York, especially as climate change scrambles conventional wisdom about when and where extreme weather strikes? “The nature of the risk has changed,” said Saurabh Amin, an associate professor with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Anti-Licensing Forces Miss the Point

Date: September 10, 2021

Extreme anti-licensing bills have popped up in numerous states and are posing a threat to the rigorous and established professional standards followed by PEs, architects, and others who design and construct the built environment, according to an op-ed in The Hill.

Lawmakers calling for these extreme measures don’t differentiate between barbers and manicurists, for example, and PEs and architects, say Tom Smith, executive director of ASCE, and Michael Armstrong, CEO of NCARB. “In their absolutist free-market view, reflected in the language of their model legislation, a visit to a barbershop or beauty salon should be treated the same as designing a bridge or water treatment plant.”

The legislative proposals range from measures that would eliminate licensing entirely to so-called “Universal Licensing” bills that would require states to accept licenses from any state regardless of whether the out-of-state license had the same level of qualifications behind it.

Natchez Mayor Calls Proposed Biorefinery ‘Historic’

Date: September 10, 2021

A $1.5 billion bio-refinery plant that could break ground as early as 2023 is stirring excitement in Natchez and Adams County, reports Magnolia State Live. The facility, proposed by UK-based Velocys, would be one of only two facilities in the US that would specialize in the production of environmentally friendly fuel, especially jet fuel, made from wood waste. Mississippi officials hope the project will bring hundreds of jobs to the state. In a social media post, Natchez’s mayor called the future Bayou Fuels project “historic.”

Velocys has been working on product demonstrations. In one, Japan Airlines completed a successful flight from Tokyo to Sapporo powered by fuel made from wood in June. The company believes it was the first time a commercial airline has ever flown with wood-based fuel.

Mississippi’s Challenge: Spending Wisely

Date: August 16, 2021

As billions of federal dollars flow to state and local governments and agencies through the American Rescue Plan Act, an article in the Dispatch raises a question: Is Mississippi up to the task of spending the money properly? State Auditor Shad White says the question keeps him up at night. “I think the answer is: the jury is still out.”

The state will receive $6 billion, but so far there has been little planning or coordination among state leaders, or solicitation of input from communities, the article says. As other states ramp up their projects, “there could be shortages of engineers, planners and contractors, potentially causing delays.”

Gulfport’s mayor put it this way: “The projects we would want spend it on take time to plan, do the engineering, planning, bidding, design process. There are so many moving parts … sometimes these things take years. There are probably very few cities that have anything that would qualify as shovel-ready.”

With unprecedented money coming in, he added, that “will probably mean unprecedented audits later on,” as Mississippi learned after Hurricane Katrina.

Senate Approves I-14 Corridor Amendment

Date: August 16, 2021

Expansion of the Interstate 14 five-state corridor moved closer to reality when the US Senate unanimously passed an amendment adding authorization of the project to the pending Bipartisan Infrastructure Package, reports the Daily Leader. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss), of Brookhaven, did not vote for the final infrastructure bill but did back the I-14 initiative. If the Senate bill becomes law as expected, the interstate project will receive full congressional designation—a goal the I-14/Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition has been working toward for nearly 20 years.

“This is huge for any city or town along this corridor — in Mississippi along what is now Hwy. 84,” said Monticello Mayor Martha Watts. “It will take years to complete but this will potentially have a great economic impact for all municipalities along Hwy. 84.”

The interstate would cross Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Improvements Considered for Vicksburg’s Water System

Date: July 21, 2021

Upgrades to Vicksburg’s water system are expected to cost $18.6 million over 10 years, according to an analysis by a Houston engineering firm, reports the Vicksburg Post. Among the proposed improvements: adding parallel pipelines between the clarifiers and filters at the water treatment plant, deepening the clear well suction pipelines, and setting up a GIS survey of the city’s water system that links directly to a hydraulic model for determining future projects and repairs

Vicksburg’s mayor said the GIS for monitoring the system should be the top priority as well as locating missing revenue from the water system. He said the city is billing for 70% of the water the city is producing.

“The study,” the article says, “was commissioned in the wake of a paralyzing ice storm in mid-February that created problems for the city’s water system.”

Out of the Blue, USM Opens Gulf Coast Business Accelerator

Date: July 21, 2021

The University of Southern Mississippi has unveiled an initiative that it hopes will open the door for higher paying jobs, student employment, and a future for marine, engineering, science, and prototyping careers in the state, according to WXXV 25. Dubbed Gulf Blue, the initiative will make its home at historic Gulf and Ship Island building in Gulfport.

The business accelerator will provide a place where innovators can work with university research scientists and federal partners to solve challenges in six areas: uncrewed maritime systems, ocean-friendly plastics, precision aquaculture, smart ports, coastal data, and sea-space systems.

How Baseball Sparked an Engineering Partnership

Date: June 10, 2021

Rust College and University of Mississippi have formed a partnership that allows students to pursue mathematics at Rust for three years followed by two years at the Ole Miss School of Engineering, and earn degrees from both. Four tracks are included in the dual-degree program: biomedical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering.

Rust College’s president said the partnership will increase the pipeline of Black engineers for business and industry and increase diversity at the state’s flagship institution. Rust is the state’s oldest historically Black college and Ole Miss is home to the state’s oldest engineering school.

Baseball, of all things, brought the schools together. Last year, Marni Kendricks, assistant dean at the Ole Miss School of Engineering, met with Rust College’s baseball coach Stanley Stubbs to discuss an engineering student project for the college’s athletics facilities. As they were talking, Stubbs was called by a prospective student who was interest in attending Rust but wanted to study engineering.

That got the ball rolling. Officials at Rust’s Division of Science and Mathematics and UM’s School of Engineering spent the next six months working to integrate the degree course plans so that students could meet all requirements within five years. The dual-degree program will be available to students beginning in fall 2021.

New Civil Engineering Program for Seabees on the Coast Get

Date: June 10, 2021

With help from a Vermont university, the first civil engineering degree program on the Coast, specifically designed for Seabees, will be offered at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, reports WLOX. Before the program’s creation, the Navy would not let enlisted sailors in construction trades to become Navy Civil Engineer Corps officers without having to leave the service.

The in-person civil engineering instruction will be provided by Norwich University, the oldest senior military college in the US. It will be offered to civilians, but it is designed to accommodate the strenuous schedule of Seabees and their families. The program will partner with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community college, which will offer the prep courses.

Tool Manufacturer Expands in Mississippi

Date: May 17, 2021

Milwaukee Tool will invest $60 million in advanced technology and manufacturing equipment to support the operation of a new accessories manufacturing facility in Grenada County, reports the Oxford Eagle. The 500,000-square-foot facility in Grenada County’s I-55 Business and Technology Park will bring 1,200 jobs to the region, 800 in the new Grenada facility. Engineering and technician jobs will be among the openings. Other Milwaukee Tool facilities in the state are located in Greenwood, Jackson, and Olive Branch. As of 2020, the company employed more than 2,343 in the state.

Solar Power Development Moves Ahead

Date: May 17, 2021

A 100 MW solar facility broke ground in late April in Sunflower County, reports Solar Power World. It is one of the first utility-scale solar projects to be constructed under a build transfer agreement in the United States. Once the facility is completed by Recurrent Energy, it will be owned by Entergy Mississippi.

Solar Power World also reports that Clay County will be the home of a 200-MW solar farm that support the renewable energy goals of Knoxville, Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Authority and the Knoxville Utilities Board have chosen Origis Energy to develop the facility. Origis will develop, build, own, and operate the plant, and supply energy through an agreement with TVA’s Green Invest program. Starkville recently became the first Mississippi municipality to join TVA’s Green Invest program, according to the Dispatch. Starkville Utilities purchased 30 megawatts of solar energy from TVA, equal to 15% of the city’s annual electricity consumption.

Port of Vicksburg Project Advances

Date: April 21, 2021

It has been called a “generational project for Vicksburg.” Now an environmental assessment has started on a potential site, and state and local leaders are publicly discussing the project for the first time, reports the Vicksburg Post. Two plans are under consideration: expansion of the current port facilities at an estimated cost $47.55 million and building a new port facility at an estimated cost of $102 million. A 2019 market analysis identified potential opportunities if more port infrastructure were available. Among them are scrap iron imports from Mexico, containerized soybean exports, and wood-chip exports in containers.

Jackson’s Broken Water System

Date: April 21, 2021

An article in Mississippi Today takes a close look at the failings of Jackson’s water system. Even before February’s winter storms caused Jacksonians to lose running water, many Jacksonians lacked access to clean drinking water. Among other problems, they are faced with high lead levels, inconsistent billing, faulty and unaddressed water treatment techniques, and an emergency order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the city’s water system presented “imminent and substantial endangerment” to its customers and could contain E. Coli.

The problems stem from “decades of underinvestment and deferred maintenance within a dysfunctional and outdated water treatment and delivery system.” The lack of planning for investment in the system and the loss of a customer base have left Jackson in the same position as “other major cities like Detroit, Toledo or Kansas City, whose leaders have had to look outside their own budgets to solve major crises.”

A Q&A with Eddie Templeton, P.E.

President, Burns Cooley Dennis Inc.

Eddie Templeton, P.E.

Last year, Burns Cooley Dennis Inc. celebrated 35 years in business. The firm started in a narrow slot in a Jackson warehouse building and has grown to become the largest geotechnical and materials consulting firm headquartered in Mississippi. Among its 69 employees are 11 PEs, 5 EIs, 7 employees with MS degrees in geotechnical engineering, and 3 with PhDs in either geotechnical or materials engineering. 

President Eddie Templeton, P.E., joined NSPE and the Mississippi Society in 1994, and four other of BCD’s engineering leaders are also members: VP/Principal Randy Ahlrich, Ph.D., P.E.; Principal Tommy Dunlap, P.G., P.E.; Principal Robert Varner, P.E.; and Engineer Kevin Williams, P.E. 

Among the firm’s current or recently completed projects:

  • A technically challenging design of a stabilization system for the Loess bluffs along the Mississippi River and along the west side of the VA cemetery in Natchez;
  • The design of a stabilization system for a complex grouping of large landslides along I-40 at Rockwood Mountain in Roane County, Tennessee; and
  • Providing construction materials testing services for the Amazon facility under construction in Madison County.

Templeton recently provided some thoughts about the pandemic, project costs and quality, a recent acquisition, and the importance of technician certification. 

The pandemic has shaken up many aspects of AEC industry. How has business been over the last year? 

Templeton: We have been blessed with a fairly steady flow of work during the pandemic. On the geotechnical engineering side, we attribute this to the diversity in the types of services we offer and to several ongoing open-end, indefinite delivery type contracts with state highway departments, the Corps of Engineers, railroads, and utility companies. There was a slight decrease in the volume of commercial development projects, which typically make up a nice portion of our workload, but this was offset by an increase in disaster relief/emergency response-type project work related to soil erosion and landslide activity that resulted from the historically high rainfall that occurred in late 2019 and early 2020. 

BCD offers several specialty practice areas beyond routine geotechnical engineering and construction testing that were, thankfully, less impacted by the pandemic. These include flood protection projects, embankment/slope stabilization projects, earth fill dams design, and remediation, ground improvement, pavement materials research and design, geo-structure design and practical numerical geo-modeling. We also offer expertise in forensic geotechnical and materials engineering, value engineering, and geotechnical site selection studies which have help maintain a steady workflow throughout the pandemic.

We hear a lot about the anticipated long-term effects of COVID-19 on society, such as more remote work and greater reliance on technology. How do you expect business will be different at BCD in the post-pandemic world? 

Templeton: During the pandemic, professional staff have had to accommodate having no or restricted face-to-face business or internal meetings, no in-person technical conferences, and no participation in professional society lunch meetings. However, in Mississippi as well as many other states, most of the engineering services we provide are centered on construction and are considered essential, so we had to decide how to best accommodate the pandemic restrictions while maintaining a safe environment for our employees. 

BCD employs 27 engineering technicians who work either in the field on drill crews collecting soil samples, at construction sites inspecting construction and testing construction materials or in the laboratory, testing soils, aggregates, concrete, and asphalt. None of these activities and services can be performed remotely. Daily collaboration is required between these engineering technicians and the project engineers and clients-owners to ensure that services are provided in an accurate and timely manner while accommodating safety protocols established by local, federal and state health agencies. 

So, while some of our engineers and administrative staff have been able to work remotely on occasion, most of our professional and technical staff have continued to report to work in person. We established mask and sanitation protocols early in the pandemic and I believe this helped reduce the incident rate. The post-pandemic world does not seem like it will have changed the way BCD conducts business with the exception that most of us are much better at participating and setting up “Zoom” meetings now! 

You’re president of a firm that celebrated 35 years in business last June. What are the guiding principles you follow to keep BCD a top geotechnical firm? 

Templeton: It’s hard to think of anything to say that won’t sound dated or cliché, but since I started here at BCD the principle has always been to provide the client the best, most efficient, timely service, regardless of the project size—client satisfaction and service is job-one. Although cost is always an important part of the equation, we do not allow cost to determine the quality of the service we provide. If the client feels the cost is too high and we feel the quality of work will be compromised if the scope of work is reduced, then BCD is not the right engineering firm for the project. 

A firm is its employees and as owner-doers, we strive to lead by example of what to do and how to service our clients’ needs. We take pride in our employees, showing respect and challenging them to be the best at what they do, and because they achieve this level of skill and work, we accordingly compensate them financially and with benefits. 

BCD recently acquired SoilTech Consultants Inc., which was an affiliate firm of Neel-Schaffer Inc., a firm you’ve collaborated with on projects. How did the acquisition come about and why was it a good fit?

Templeton: Neel-Schaffer and BCD are both headquartered in the Jackson MS metro, with many of the staff having close relationships on a personal as well as professional level. Neel-Schaffer and BCD have similar histories and a long history of collaboration. Both firms were founded in the mid-1980s by local engineers with shared commitments of providing the highest quality services and to being employee owned. 

Neel-Schaffer leaders decided to focus on core services such as transportation, civil, environmental, and water resources engineering, and it was a natural fit to sell the firm’s geotechnical affiliate to BCD. Because of our long history of successful collaboration, it was a quick easy decision on both sides, and we could not be more pleased with the acquisition. 

The acquisition of SoilTech improves BCD’s ability to deliver the best engineered solutions to both routine and complex geotechnical projects for our current and new client base. By expanding our reach in the market, BCD will have even more opportunities for growth by employing the talents of SoilTech professionals who have joined our company. In turn, BCD will be introduced to new clients who were previously served by SoilTech. 

The work of BCD’s soils, earthwork, concrete, and asphalt testing laboratories is carried out by laboratory and field technicians. Some are certified by NICET, a division of NSPE. What does NICET’s technician certification bring to your team? 

Templeton: As stated previously, the two most important things that drive the success of a service firm is its clients and its employees. Special certifications such as NICET, which represents significant specialized training and improvement for employees, also mean improved quality of inspection and testing capability for owners-clients. Such specialized certification is a win-win for client, employee, and BCD. We take great pride in having the largest private materials testing and research laboratory in the state of Mississippi that is accredited through the AASHTO Accreditation Program as well as maintaining the US Army Corps of Engineers certification.

Pipeline Draws Opposition

Date: March 18, 2021

A planned pipeline to carry oil from a refinery in Memphis to Byhalia, Mississippi, has received all of its permits but is facing opposition from a Tennessee legislator, reports the Mississippi Business Journal. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat who represents Memphis, has asked President Joe Biden to rescind the permission the Plains All American project due to concerns about potential contamination of an aquifer that supplies the city with drinking water. The commander of the Corps of Engineers’ Memphis District said in a letter that contamination of the aquifer is not reasonably likely to occur.

Virtual Membership Meeting on 2/18: Don’t Miss It

By Harry Gong, P.E., F.NSPE

I am inviting all Mississippi NSPE Members to attend a virtual membership meeting that is scheduled for Thursday, February 18, 2021 from 11:30am to 12:30pm. During this meeting the following items will be presented and discussed:

  1. NSPE Updates
    a. New Executive Director & CEO - Monika Schulz, CAE
    b. Updates from NSPE Officers/Staff
  2. Mississippi Legislature Updates
  3. Engineers Week (February 21 - 27)
  4. Nominations for Mississippi House Delegate 2021-2023
  5. Time for members to share

Please make note of item 4 as I intend to share the duties and commitment that are required to serve as the House Delegate in addition to other volunteer opportunities for serving NSPE. So if you are interested in serving, please attend this meeting so that you can learn how you can get more involved with NSPE.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to comment or email me directly.

Governor Signs EWeek Proclamation

Governor Tate Reeves has signed a proclamation declaring February 21-27 as National Engineers Week in Mississippi. Get all the details about EWeek on the DiscoverE website.

Where To Spend Lottery Dollars? State or Local Roads?

Date: February 10, 2021

Lottery revenue earmarked for maintenance on state highways would be diverted to local road and bridge needs under legislation pending in the Mississippi Senate, according to Mississippi Today. During a special session in 2018, lawmakers adopted the state lottery and decided the first $80 million in annual lottery revenue would be earmarked for MDOT. The legislation would divert any lottery revenue in excess of $80 million to public education. The bill’s author says Mississippi’s state-funded highways rank eighth in the nation, but locally funded roads and bridges are among the worst in the country.

Mississippi Job Opportunities

Date: February 10, 2021

Postdoctoral Research- Machine Learning
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)- ORISE

Research Agricultural Engineer
USDA-ARS-Pollinator Health in Southern Crop Ecosystem Research Unit

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Corps Approves Yazoo Pumps

Date: January 27, 2021

The US Army Corps of Engineers has put the final approval on the Yazoo Backwater Pumps Projects, reports the Vicksburg Post. The pumps were the final piece of the Yazoo Backwater Levee Project authorized by Congress in 1941, but the EPA vetoed the pumps project in 2008. After modifications to the pump plan, the EPA said that its original objections no longer applied.

Dam Poses Risk to Neighborhood

Date: January 27, 2021

A neighborhood lake formed by a dam that hasn’t had an owner in years is placing the public at risk, according to the Meridian Star. If a new owner doesn’t step forward and maintain the dam, the Mississippi DEQ will develop plans for a controlled breach to drain the lake. The dam, located in Meridian, is considered high-hazard. Modeling shows that 43 residences and 17 businesses would be flooded if the dam had an uncontrolled breach.

Bridge Project Makes History

Date: December 16, 2020

Engineering and construction history was made in Jackson on the I-20 replacement flyover bridge at I-55. On December 7, MDOT reported that crews were placing the bridge’s seventh and final 170-foot concrete beam—the largest pre-stressed simple spans in MDOT history. The 200,000-pound beams were set in place using a self-propelled modular transport lifting frame, the first time the department has used such a device. Watch the video.

The $42.2 million project was awarded to Key LLC, of Madison. The existing bridge will be demolished once the new span is complete.

Member Spotlight: Wayne Black, P.E.

Date: December 16, 2020

Check out the Mississippi licensing board’s excellent December Engineer Spotlight of accomplished member Wayne Black of Garver LLC.

Lottery Dollars Mean New Pavement

Date: December 16, 2020

In its first year, Mississippi’s lottery brought in around $500 million, and the state collected $70 million to help fix roads and infrastructure, reports WAPT. “We took those $70 million and for the most part, used it for pavement projects, projects that hadn’t been done in over 20 years,” said Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons.

Oil Spill Restoration Work Moves Slowly

Date: November 18, 2020

An analysis of BP spending by Mississippi Today on damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill shows that the bulk of the restoration work remains undone. Mississippi had spent $134 million of an obligated $576 million total, as of last December, leaving more than $700 million left for future projects. So far, about a dozen restoration projects have been completed, with nearly 80% of funds going toward nonenvironmental projects like $14 million for the Gulfport Aquarium, $10 million for the INFINITY Science Center in Pearlington, and $4 million for the Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park in Biloxi.

The article says, “some environmental stakeholders are skeptical that the state is prioritizing its top restoration goals with its spending, while others are concerned that Mississippi is missing a cohesive approach to restoration.”

The UK-based BP reached a more than $20 billion settlement for environmental damages and was hit with over $2 billion in criminal penalties. The money, combined with smaller settlements, will be used through several federal funding programs and the five Gulf states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. April marked the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Model Developed at Vicksburg Center Tracks COVID Spread

Date: November 18, 2020

Researchers at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg have developed a model that predicts the spread of the coronavirus and is being used as a planning tool for building alternate care facilities, reports Business Facilities. “The model takes the reported number of active cases in a county’s or state’s geographic area, then uses a parameter optimization process, similar to the way models for weather forecasting are parameterized,” said Brandon Lafferty, a researcher from the ERDC Environmental Laboratory. “That data is fed into ordinary differential equations to provide predictions for active COVID-19 infections for the future.” The model has been featured on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website—“the first time a model developed and maintained by the Department of Defense has been included in the CDC ensemble,” the article says.

A New Energy Exchange Market for the Southeast?

Date: October 28, 2020

Utilities in the Southeast are pushing to create “a new electricity market that could boost renewable energy in a region still dominated by fossil fuels,” reports E&E News. The Southeast Energy Exchange Market would allow the area’s utilities to buy and sell excess electricity as a way to meet net-zero carbon targets. “The utilities hope to file a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by the end of the year. If approved, it would be the first regional wholesale market of any kind in the Southeast,” the article says.

USACE Report Backs Proposed Delta Pump Project

Date: October 28, 2020

The US Army Corps of Engineers’ draft of a new environmental impact statement supports a proposal for massive pumps to drain floodwaters from parts of the rural Mississippi Delta — a reversal of a previous federal report that said the project would hurt wetlands, according to Claims Journal. The project involves building huge pumps at the confluence of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers to protect an area that has experienced significant flooding during nine of the past 10 years, according to the Corps, which will conduct online public hearings and accept public comments until November 30.

We Want to Hear from You!

Date: October 28, 2020

Do you know of engineering news in Mississippi that would be great for this newsletter? Maybe it’s a project you or your firm is working on, or perhaps you read some interesting engineering news in your local newspaper. Or maybe you know of a fellow PE or student who deserves a little recognition. If so, we want to hear from you. Email your ideas to

NTSB Report and NSPE's Action on this Issue

Date: October 5, 2018

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters to the governors of 31 states named in its final report on the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, including Mississippi. The letter requests an end to the engineering license exemption for gas pipeline operators in these states, and asks for governors to provide an update to the NTSB with in 90 days.

When the NTSB began its investigation of the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, investigative staff reached out to NSPE seeking information about licensing exemptions. Through a series of conversations and emails, NSPE shared report data, information on the licensing process and requirements, and its Position Statement on licensing exemptions. Consequently, NSPE was successful in getting the NTSB to adopt a policy of addressing and eliminating engineering license exemptions within the gas pipeline industry.

NSPE’s national staff continues to be in conversation with NTSB staff, and will continue to share updates as they happen. We are happy to support state efforts at eliminating this exemption.

Read the full report from NTSB.

NTSB Report and Recommendations


NTSB has released an abstract of its forthcoming final report on the fatal Merrimack Valley pipeline explosion from September of last year. Final revisions are being made to the report, but in the report’s synopsis/executive summary, NTSB states that “requiring a licensed professional engineer to stamp plans would illustrate that the plans had been approved by an accredited professional with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a comprehensive review.” Acknowledging the importance of the role of the PE in preventing an event like this from occurring, NTSB recommends the elimination of the licensing exemption on natural gas pipeline projects in the 31 states that have the exemption in place, including the state of Mississippi.

Read the synopsis of the report.