Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is home to vital facilities in the nation’s energy infrastructure.
Located on the nation’s Gulf Coast and bordered to the west by the river that shares its name, Mississippi has a substantial energy infrastructure. The state has many natural gas, crude oil, and refined product pipelines, as well as 16 ports, 3 of which are on the Gulf of Mexico. The state’s other ports are on the Mississippi River, the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway, and the Yazoo River. Several of the ports ship crude oil and refined products as well as handling coal. Although it is not as rich in crude oil and natural gas resources as some of its neighboring Gulf Coast states, the role Mississippi plays in America’s energy supply becomes particularly evident when an approaching hurricane forces the temporary shutdown of the state’s natural gas processing plants and the large oil refinery located along Mississippi’s Gulf of Mexico coastline.
Mississippi’s humid sub-tropical climate is typified by long, hot summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall. Its rich soils, especially between the Mississippi River and the Yazoo River, provide fertile farmland where soybeans, corn, and cotton are the most valuable crops. Although agriculture played a central role in Mississippi’s economy in the past, manufacturing is now the state’s leading economic sector. Petroleum production and refining, and the manufacture of chemicals; food, beverage, and tobacco products; machinery; motor vehicles; and other transportation products are all substantial contributors to the state’s economy. Mississippi consumes more energy than it produces. Industry and transportation are the leading energy-consuming end-use sectors in the state. Along with the strong demand for electricity for cooling during the summer and heating in winter, those sectors place Mississippi’s per capita energy consumption in the top one-third of all states.
Mississippi does not have a renewable portfolio standard, and renewable resources are not a significant part of Mississippi’s energy supply mix. However, with almost two-thirds of the state forested, Mississippi has an abundant renewable biomass resource. Biomass from wood and wood waste provides the state’s utility-scale renewably fueled power generation. Mississippi biomass comes from the wood products and paper manufacturing industries, which together contribute almost one-tenth of the state’s manufacturing gross domestic product; logging residues also contribute to the biomass total in Mississippi. The state has other biomass resources, including 19 landfills and agricultural wastes such as poultry litter and crop residues, which could be utilized. Although Mississippi’s hot and humid weather conditions create clouds and haze that decrease the effectiveness of electricity generation from solar photovoltaic collector panels, solar energy potential does exist, and small arrays of solar panels have been installed on residential and commercial rooftops. Mississippi’s potential for wind-powered generation is relatively small because of the state’s scarce wind resources.
Mississippi has one ethanol-producing plant, located in Vicksburg. The plant, which uses corn as a feedstock, had suspended operations for upgrades and came back online in the summer of 2015. A cellulosic ethanol plant has been proposed that would use sorted municipal solid waste and wood waste as feedstocks. The state also has six biodiesel plants that use a variety of feedstocks including animal fats and soy oil.
Mississippi’s two largest power plants by capacity are coal-fired and nuclear, but natural gas is Mississippi’s main fuel for electricity generation. In 2015, more than two-thirds of the state’s electricity generation was fueled by natural gas. Coal-fired and nuclear power supply almost all of the rest of the state’s net generation. Each provided about one-fifth of the electricity produced in the state in 2014. However, in 2015 coal’s contribution to the state’s net generation fell to one-tenth. A single large reactor at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station provides Mississippi’s nuclear power. The facility is the largest single-unit nuclear power plant in the nation. A new coal-fired plant, scheduled to come online in 2016, will be fueled by lignite from Mississippi’s new coal mine in Kemper County. The new plant will use a state-of-the-art coal gasification process designed to reduce carbon emissions.
The largest share of retail electricity sales in Mississippi goes to the state’s residential sector. Air-conditioning use during the hot summer months and the widespread use of electricity for home heating during the mild winter months drives strong demand for electricity in Mississippi households. More than half of Mississippi’s households use electricity for home heating.
Mississippi’s natural gas storage capacity is almost 4% of the U.S. total.
Mississippi’s natural gas production is limited, accounting for about 0.2% of the nation’s total. Marketed natural gas production increased briefly after reaching a record low of 53 billion cubic feet in 2005; but, by 2014, Mississippi’s annual marketed production had fallen back to slightly more than 54 billion cubic feet. Production has not regained the record levels seen in the mid-1950s and again in the early 1980s. Natural gas supplies move into the state primarily from Louisiana and Arkansas and from the offshore Gulf of Mexico. Nine-tenths of the natural gas that enters Mississippi continues on to other states via the more than 20 interstate natural gas pipelines that cross the state. Mississippi is one of the few states with large underground salt caverns capable of storing natural gas. Half the state’s 12 storage fields are in salt caverns. The rest are in depleted oil and gas fields. Mississippi has almost 4% of the nation’s total natural gas storage capacity.
Mississippi has several natural gas processing plants, one of which is on the coast and was built to handle the growth in natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. That facility, the Pascagoula plant, one of the largest natural gas processing plants in the United States, began operating in 1998 and has gone through capacity expansions since then. The plant capacity is now more than 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day. Mississippi also has a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Pascagoula that was scheduled to begin receiving shipments of LNG in 2011. However, because of higher U.S. natural gas production, much of it from shales, the facility never received any LNG shipments after the initial delivery that was used to acclimate the tanks. The terminal’s owners now plan to export LNG.
The largest share of the natural gas consumed in Mississippi is used to generate electricity, and that amount has increased substantially over the past two decades. The industrial sector, which typically consumes less than half as much natural gas as the electric power sector, is the second-largest natural gas-consuming sector in the state. Although more than 3 in 10 households in Mississippi use natural gas for home heating, typically more natural gas has been consumed by the many natural gas pipelines and distribution systems in the state.
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