EPA gives state $2M to clean up urgent environmental problems

State-run environmental programs are getting a big boost. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has received a $2.15 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of a performance partnership grant, which provides financial assistance to states and tribes to address urgent environmental problems.

Robbie Wilbur, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, said Thursday that details on the specific environmental programs the grant will fund were not immediately available. The EPA said the grant will aid Mississippi’s efforts to reduce air and water pollution; improve waste management; restore brownfields to productive uses; and prevent pollution and promote sustainability and natural-resource conservation. MDEQ also has plans to improve safe public drinking water supplies; address wastewater concerns and water pollution from rain runoff; and restore and protect wetlands, the EPA said in a new release. The grant will also improve how public information about the environment.

Hood creates solar install guide

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office now has a guide for Mississippi home and business owners about how they can navigate installing solar panels. The guide, titled the Consumer’s Guide to Solar Power in Mississippi, launched Wednesday at the same time as Attorney General Jim Hood announced the guide at a news conference in his office. “It’s good for the environment, for people and for the economy,” Hood said. Hood said the guide piggybacks on the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s 2015 ruling allowing net metering in the state. Net metering allows home and business owners who use solar panels or other renewable energy generators to sell the excess power they produce back to power companies to offset their power bill.

Kemper cost goes up $38M, start date pushed back again

Mississippi Power Co. will need another month to address ongoing challenges at its Kemper County energy facility, specifically with its gasifiers, each gasifier’s ash removal systems, the plant’s sour water system and sustaining operations overall. The utility, a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., announced in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday that it expects the remainder of the plant to become fully operational by May 31. The plant, which is running on natural gas, was at one point supposed to go into full operation running on syngas by May 2014. The plant’s cost will also go up about $38 million, bringing the plant’s total cost to nearly $7.3 billion, Mississippi Power said.