An Opinion-Editorial by MEI President Patrick Sullivan published May 11, 2012 by the Clarion Ledger

If you’re like most Americans, you’re worried about the recent rise of gasoline prices and where it’s going from here. But for those who like to look at the bright side of things, it could be worse. At least you’re not filling up your tank up in California or worse, Europe. A gallon of gas in California costs $4.35, 70 cents more than a gallon in Mississippi, and a gallon in the United Kingdom costs the equivalent of $8.23. Additionally, California households pay 52% more per kilowatt hour than we do for electric power, while Londoners pay 130% more for power than Mississippians.

Data shows Mississippi has an energy cost advantage over the national average and a significant edge over places like California and Europe. Why? Mississippi’s energy policy is intentionally and rightfully geared towards diversity, supply and affordability. California’s and Europe’s policies are obviously focused on something other than delivering reliable, affordable energy to those who want it and need it.

Going forward, this is a major advantage for us. Mississippi’s energy situation is a microcosm of what the vast majority of Americans want in an energy policy for our country.

So other than the fact that almost everyone prefers to pay less for energy, why does this matter? From a macro perspective, this is clear evidence of a more favorable supply/demand ratio here, a reasonable and pro-growth regulatory system, and a more favorable tax environment (taxes make up a majority of Europe’s costs). These together add up to more opportunities and more serious looks from investors, i.e. job creators.

Proximity to oil production and refining, an abundance of pipeline assets, diversity in electric power production, and importantly, the state’s hospitable attitude toward those looking to invest big bucks in energy projects are major reasons we pay less at the pump and less to power our homes and businesses.

Not only does this result in more disposable income for families and businesses, but this gives us an edge in today’s incredibly competitive economic development arena. Industrial and manufacturing businesses are looking to site their operations to be in places where energy is available and more affordable than the competition, and today’s competition is not only other states but the rest of the world.

As our state continues to embrace energy supply as a major part of the economic development toolbox, Mississippi will see the payoff in investment and good-paying jobs.