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Entergy want solar power for industry.

To meet growing industry demand for cleaner power, Louisiana’s largest electricity provider is laying the regulatory groundwork to add 3 gigawatts of solar energy to its generation portfolio, a massive spike in solar energy for a state that produces little of it. Earlier this week, Entergy Louisiana filed a request with the Public Service Commission to expand its solar portfolio by 3 gigawatts. Entergy officials said that request is the largest for a renewable power expansion in the state’s history. Entergy’s power portfolio across all of its markets is about 24 gigawatts, so a 3-gigawatt expansion would represent a 12.5% growth. Entergy Louisiana has access to about 10 gigawatts through generation and power purchasing, said Phillip May, the utility’s president and CEO.

Louisiana ranks 38th in solar now.

Statewide, Louisiana has installed about 276 megawatts of solar power, a figure that ranks 38th nationwide, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Louisiana trails neighbors such as Arkansas (632), Mississippi (437), Alabama (578) and Tennessee (779). However, SEIA projects Louisiana’s capacity will grow by 3,134 megawatts over the next five years, which ranks 15th. Though the power will be available for the entire grid, May made it clear that industrial demand is driving the expansion. Louisiana is emerging as a potential hub for “cleaner” energy development, including “green” hydrogen and ammonia, which will rely on renewable electricity from solar and wind. Sustainable aviation fuel plants and liquefied natural gas terminals are also demanding cleaner power, according to May.

This request is not for a specific site but for an all over need.

Entergy Louisiana’s regulatory approach for the 3-gigawatt expansion is a bit unconventional. Instead of asking the PSC to greenlight a specific project, the utility company is asking state regulators to let it raise its solar power threshold, then determine later where that power will come from. “It really is responsive to the tremendous growth we’re seeing in energy-intensive projects essentially in a corridor between Baton Rouge and the mouth of the (Mississippi) River and then southwest Louisiana,” May said. In the past, Entergy Louisiana’s timeline for bringing solar power to its grid taken as long as two-and-a-half years, May said. The PSC filing was a move to speed up regulatory reviews. “This request allows us to expedite those requests, meet our customers’ expectations and ensure that we can bring those jobs, that investment to the state of Louisiana,” May said. “It’s really about getting faster on the process.” May said the energy would come from somewhere near a dozen new solar farms, all of which would be constructed in Louisiana. The companies will solicit bids from interested developers. May added that he expects industrial companies to “support the cost of most of these projects.” “We know there are a lot of developers in the state of Louisiana that are looking at developing solar,” May said. “(The power) will come literally across the entire state.”

Entergy has made a gradual shift to renewables.

The new projects are part of a gradual shift, albeit more rapid in recent years, toward renewable energy for Entergy Louisiana, which provides power to more than 1 million customers in 58 parishes. Renewable energy, namely solar and wind, made up about 2% of Entergy Louisiana’s entire power generation portfolio in 2022, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. That figure is expected to tick up to 3% in 2023. Most of the utility’s existing power generation comes from natural gas and nuclear. Entergy Louisiana has 280 megawatts of renewable energy currently in its portfolio, including the Capital Region Solar facility in West Baton Rouge Parish. In addition, the PSC in September greenlit Entergy Louisiana’s plan to buy an additional 475 megawatts of power from four solar farms across the state. The utility is also seeking a 224-megawatt solar expansion through farms in Iberville and Ouachita parishes.

Not everyone wants solar farms. Ask farmers.

The planned solar expansion could run into opposition from rural parishes, who have been fighting solar farms over concerns of farmland availability and low job creation. May said solar farms create few direct jobs, but he said growing solar power helps Louisiana bring in even more industrial energy investments. “That’s jobs, that’s taxes, that’s income,” he said. Entergy officials cautioned that calculating the total of homes or businesses the 3 gigawatts could power is difficult, given that power usage by state varies for many reasons. However, information from the Solar Energy Industries Association says the national average for homes powered a megawatt of solar energy is 173. Using that average, 3 gigawatts of solar energy could feed about 519,000 homes.

Aother boost for solar and ir the wind farms come in there is more to choose from.

Entergy wants more solar power
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