UK-based renewable fuels company coming to Natchez

United Kingdom-based renewable fuels company Velocys PLC will build its first U.S. biorefinery in Natchez, citing an attractive regulatory and tax regime and the abundant local supply at a low cost among its benefits. Velocys announced on Friday it signed a site option agreement with Adams County, where it will build a plant that will convert wood products into biodiesel and jet fuel. The 100-acre site is located on River Terminal Road near L.E. Barry Road, about a mile from the Mississippi River, officials said. Scott Slover, attorney for the Board of Supervisors of Adams County, said the existing industry in Natchez is also a good fit for the plant thanks to its history supporting the city’s former International Paper mill, which closed in 2003. According to the Mississippi Business Journal, the mill opened in Natchez in 1950, and its closure left 640 employees without jobs and devastated the local economy.

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.