Regional energy meeting kicks off Wednesday

Trent Kelly

Mississippi State officials say the university is positioned to help shape the future of energy storage in the Southeast region, and a conference on campus this week will help frame the conversation for what the region's future holds.

Recently-elected U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., will deliver the keynote address at the Challenges and Opportunities for Advances in Grid-Tied Energy Storage in the Southeast Symposium.

A Tupelo resident, Kelly represents the 1st Congressional District that includes much of the northern part of Mississippi. He serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, including the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee and the Commodity, Exchanges, Energy and Credit Subcommittee, as well as the Small Business Committee, including the Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access Subcommittee and the Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee.

MSU, in conjunction with the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by Lemont, Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratory, is sponsoring the symposium on Wednesday [Aug. 12] and Thursday [Aug. 13] at the new Mill at MSU Conference Center on Russell Street in Starkville. Speakers and panelists will be examining energy storage opportunities that could help local utilities and agricultural operations while improving resiliency to natural disasters.

Since the Southeast is highly susceptible to tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather events and natural disasters, residents' access to power supplies often are lost or threatened, said Mike Mazzola, holder of the Jack Hatcher Chair for Entrepreneurship in MSU's electrical and computer engineering department.

Noting that electrical power disruptions typically present the biggest challenge for victims in the aftermath of a disaster, Mazzola said the symposium will explore new power-storage and portable-energy technologies that would be more resilient to catastrophes.

He said speakers and panelists also would be focusing on how smaller cities and rural communities could economically use renewable resources like solar and wind power to cut costs and become more energy efficient.

MSU and the federal representatives will be joined at the symposium by colleagues from the Tennessee Valley Authority, Entergy and the Southern Co.

Other program topics will include ways farmers and others in agriculture may be helped and save money by turning to solar power; and how new storage technologies could help wind energy become competitive in the market.

"Energy storage is critical in making wind and solar effective alternative power applications for the grid," said Jonathan Pote, the interim director of the MSU Energy Institute.

Emphasizing that the symposium isn't just for "technical specialists," Mazzola expressed hope that the major MSU event also will draw other academic researchers and energy industry leaders, along with many others who might play a role in the positive impact of future energy-storage technologies.

"Many other utility organizations, including electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, and even public officials may be interested in this," he said.

Online signup may be completed at or by printing a website form and submitting it by mail. A complete symposium agenda and other information also is found at the site.

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Zack Plair | Public Affairs

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