Sunday, May 26, 2024

Entergy applies for grant funds to improve its power grid in Louisiana

by BIZ Magazine

NEW ORLEANS – Entergy is continuing to pursue federal grant funding that would directly offset the cost of projects that would make the electric system in Louisiana stronger. If secured, these funds and the subsequent projects would be aimed at reducing extreme weather impacts and speeding up restoration and recovery efforts after major storm events.

“We fully recognize how important this funding opportunity is – and how it could help make not only our electric system more resilient, but also our Louisiana communities more resilient,” said Rod West, group president, utility operations for Entergy. “We will aggressively pursue every available opportunity like this to secure grant funding to increase grid resilience while minimizing the impacts on our customers’ monthly energy bills.”

The Gulf South is home to a premier economic hub with many advantages, including world-class infrastructure, access to seven of the top 20 U.S. ports, favorable commodity spreads, workforce availability and a growing industrial customer base. Government investments in the resilience of Entergy’s electric grid will benefit the entire country, given the company’s critical role in powering national energy security and the global economy through interstate transportation and international commerce.

Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans recently submitted grant applications for government funding of projects to enhance the resiliency of the electrical grid. These projects presented in these applications, if funding is approved by the U.S. Department of Energy, would better serve Entergy’s customers through hardening of grid infrastructure, microgrid components and improved grid resilience for disadvantaged communities. The total cost of the projects presented in the grant applications is approximately $220 million.  Any federal grants received directly benefit customers.

The projects submitted for consideration include:

  • Entergy Louisiana – The proposed project would harden distribution lines to help reduce the number and duration of power outages for approximately 7,400 customers in two areas of North Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and install a battery-powered microgrid in an area that would serve 2,100 customers.
  • Entergy New Orleans – The project would harden transmission and distribution equipment in the New Orleans East area, benefitting a total of 49,300 customers across the area. The project would also include the installation of a 30.8 MWh battery that would be charged by the nearby New Orleans Solar Station, capable of delivering more than seven megawatts of power for a four-hour period.

Both utilities continue to invest heavily in reliability and resiliency upgrades to their grid.

Some examples of projects in the Entergy Louisiana service territory include:

  • The Harahan to Avondale river crossing transmission line, upgrading the line to withstand windspeeds of up to 175 mph
  • The Grand Isle underground distribution project, which saw the largest span of underground distribution feeder installed in the company’s history
  • Adding eight miles of distribution line to help support the Bayou Region
  • The West Monroe transmission project, which invested $100 million in upgrades to the transmission lines serving the northeast portion of the state

Meanwhile, Entergy New Orleans recently broke ground on a new 60-megawatt substation, which will improve the reliability and resilience of the city’s drainage and drinking water systems for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. This project builds upon other recent investments in the New Orleans area grid, such as:

  • The completed New Orleans Power Station, which provides 128 megawatts of local generation
  • The 20-megawatt New Orleans Solar Station
  • Critical upgrades to the Derbigny and Avenue C substations
  • The underground transformer replacement project in the Central Business District and French Quarter

Each company also has filed resilience plans with their respective regulators. Entergy Louisiana submitted a 10-year, $9.6 billion Entergy Future Ready resiliency plan with the Louisiana Public Service Commission, while Entergy New Orleans put forth a 10-year, $1 billion plan before the New Orleans City Council.

A stipulation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s funding is that the projects align with the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative that will ensure 40% of the overall benefits of certain government investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

With approximately 25% of Entergy’s 3 million customers living at or below the poverty level, all of Entergy’s proposed projects would benefit areas defined as “disadvantaged communities” under federal guidelines. For example, Entergy New Orleans’ proposed project would benefit disadvantaged communities within the New Orleans area, which has a poverty rate of 23.8% – a poverty rate that is about 21% higher than the Louisiana average and more than double the U.S. average.

The funding opportunities Entergy is pursuing are made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience and Innovative Partnerships program. The agency is expected to announce final awards this fall. Winning submissions will receive government funding for half of the project’s cost.

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