Mississippi hospitals take in evacuees from Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Eight hospital patients receiving medical care in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been evacuated to Mississippi hospitals after Hurricane Maria has left many of Puerto Rico’s medical services hospitals in critical condition. The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center announced Wednesday that the patients have arrived via the Allen C. Thompson Air National Guard Base Field and are being assisted by staff from the Mississippi State Department of Health, University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Air National Guard’s 172d Airlift Wing along with the medical center. Mississippi State Department of Health spokeswoman Liz Sharlot said the department has been receiving evacuees from areas of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico since Monday. “So far there have been five flights bringing patients – eight so far – and another flight is expected tonight bringing in another patient,” Sharlot said in an email Wednesday. Dr. David Walker, director of the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center, said the patients will be spread out across hospitals within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System.

Kemper negotiations stalled but regulators are ready to deal

Two weeks past a key deadline to strike an agreement over the $7.5 billion-plus Kemper County energy facility, Mississippi utility regulators say they’re ready to make Mississippi Power Co. another offer. At issue is Mississippi Power’s desire to recover $250 million more from customers than regulators had in mind for operating the natural gas portion of the plant that is servicing customers. Virden Jones, executive director of the public utilities staff, said the agency intends to make the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Company another offer Friday, but  did not provide details on what the offer would include. Once that happens, Mississippi Power can agree to those terms or not.

Negotiations extended over Kemper plant costs

Mississippi utility regulators are allowing more time for negotiations over the final costs of the $7.5 billion-plus Kemper County energy facility. Public Service Commission officials said Friday that they are pushing back to Sept. 5 their self-imposed deadline to take action. Friday had been their preferred deadline. PSC Chairman Brandon Presley tweeted that he had hoped all parties would have agreed to a settlement on the plant by now.

Kemper-related mine expected to cut 75 jobs

Liberty Fuels Company, which runs Liberty Mine adjacent to Mississippi Power’s Kemper County energy facility, expects to lay off 75 employees at the mine in about two months. NACCO Industries, the head company that oversees Liberty Fuels Company’s parent North American Coal Co., announced the layoff in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this week. A notice was issued to the 75 employees on Aug. 4, the filing states. Under its contract with Mississippi Power, Liberty Fuels Company supplies the lignite coal meant to fuel the gasification portion at the Kemper County energy facility.

Auditor sics AG on GreenTech for $6.4M loan repayment failure

The state could be heading to court with a Tunica County electric car company for a failure to pay back taxpayers to the tune of $6.4 million in loans. In 2011, GreenTech Automotive Inc., located in Robinsonville, entered into an agreement with the Mississippi Development Authority, which granted a $3 million “Industry Incentive” loan to the company and a $2 million loan to Tunica County to secure land for GreenTech’s production facility. In return, the company promised to invest at least $60 million in the project, create 350 full-time jobs — each paying at least $35,000 — and maintain those jobs for at least 10 years. When the company failed to deliver as promised by the end of 2014, State Auditor Stacey Pickering demanded the company return the money with interest. Pickering on Monday announced that GreenTech had not yet responded to his office’s July 5 order for repayment from Charles Wang, president and CEO of GreenTech. Wang was given 30 days starting July 5 to pay back the state.