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Bright Future: Louisiana Utility Makes Big Push Into Solar Energy

Louisiana might be located in the sunny South, but the state lags behind most of the rest of the country when it comes to harnessing the sun as a renewable energy source. As of 2022, Louisiana ranked No. 38 in the U.S. for solar deployment with 276 megawatts installed, Bloomberg reported, citing data from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

But Louisiana has recently made strides to bolster its solar power. In March, electric utility Entergy Louisiana filed a request with the Louisiana Public Service Commission asking for approval to purchase, construct, and operate nearly 225 megawatts of new solar energy resources.

Photo Courtesy Entergy 

According to a press release, Entergy Louisiana selected two projects to source additional solar power. One is in Iberville Parish and would account for roughly 175 megawatts. The other is in Ouachita Parish and would account for about 49 megawatts. The next step is to get approval for the project from the commission.

Under the proposal, Entergy Louisiana would enter a 20-year purchase power agreement with Coastal Prairie Solar LLC, a subsidiary of renewables company NextEra Energy Resources, for energy produced at its Iberville facility. Entergy Louisiana will also build and operate Sterlington Solar Facility in Ouachita Parish, the press release said.

Photo Courtesy NextEra Energy Resources 

If the commission approves the request, construction on the Iberville facility will begin as early as spring 2024 and be fully operational in late 2025. That would be followed by the Sterlington Solar Facility, which is expected to deliver clean power in early 2026.

“This is another step toward not only reaching our own sustainability goals but also toward helping our customers reach their sustainability goals,” Entergy Louisiana CEO Phillip May said in a statement. “The desire for clean power is increasing, and, at Entergy, we intend to meet that desire in a way that balances our ability to continue providing reliable and affordable power. We’re excited about the potential addition of nearly 225 megawatts and look forward to further expanding our portfolio of renewables as demanded by our stakeholders.”

A couple of weeks after the Iberville/Ouachita filing was announced, Entergy Louisiana filed another request with the Louisiana Public Service Commission for approval on another 3 gigawatts of solar power to its generation portfolio. 

“Our latest request for up to 3 gigawatts of renewable power, the largest such expansion request in state history, shows we’re serious about not only protecting the environment by reducing our carbon footprint but also continuing to be a major driver of economic development,” May said. “This is not only a net-positive for our company and industries but for the future of our state.”

Photo Courtesy NextEra Energy Resources 

Individual resources that make up the 3-gigawatt proposal would all be constructed in the state, “meaning local communities and economies would benefit from job creation and additional tax revenues generated during construction of the facilities,” according to a press release. 

As of March 2023, Entergy Louisiana had 3,225 megawatts of solar power in its approval queue. In September 2022, the company received approval from the Louisiana Public Service Commission to grow its renewable power portfolio by adding 475 megawatts of new-build solar generating capacity.

Entergy Louisiana is a subsidiary of Entergy, a New Orleans-based Fortune 500 company that provides energy services to 3 million customers in his home state and Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. The sustainability goals listed on the Entergy website include reducing its “emission intensity by 50% from 2000 base-year levels by 2030.” The company also has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Photo Courtesy Entergy 

Louisiana still lags well behind other states in terms of renewable energy capacity. According to a report from Louisiana Illuminator that sourced data from Climate Central’s “WeatherPower Year in Review: 2022,” California ranks first in solar capacity with 28,493 megawatts as of 2022, Texas ranked second with 12,702 megawatts, followed by Florida with 7,170 megawatts.

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