Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Entergy proposes 10-year, $9.6B plan to harden its Louisiana electrical grid

by BIZ Magazine

(The Center Square) — Entergy Louisiana is proposing a 10-year, $9.6 billion plan to harden the electrical grid in Louisiana, and is seeking approval for the first five years from the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

Entergy filed a Phase I Entergy Future Ready resilience plan with the commission on Monday to propose “a comprehensive set of grid-hardening investments for the Commission to consider along with enhanced vegetation management and alternative technologies,” according to an Entergy announcement.

The company contends it used a data-driven approach to evaluate thousands of potential storm scenarios to identify projects with the biggest impact for customers at the “lowest reasonable cost.”

“In its totality, the resilience projects are estimated to cost approximately $9.6 billion over 10 years,” the announcement read. “It calls for 9,600 distribution and transmission projects that would strengthen more than 269,000 structures over 11,000 miles of power lines.”

The plan includes two five-year phases between 2024 and 2033, and the company is working to secure federal grants and funding to mitigate the costs to customers.

Entergy is seeking approval from the PSC for the first, five-year phase, which includes about $5 billion in projects the company expects to reduce customer interruptions by more than 34 billion minutes over the next five decades.

“Louisiana has a chance to lead the way in terms of energy, resilience and sustainability, but we must be ready and that’s exactly what this plan intends to do,” said Phillip May, Entergy Louisiana president and CEO. “Our Entergy Future Ready resilience plan is about making sure we’re not only meeting the daily power needs of residents, small businesses and industries, among many other stakeholders, but also meeting their needs in the toughest of times.”

The company contends the upgrades are necessary because of an increased frequency of severe weather, and increasing demand tied to the government’s push to decarbonize.

Entergy claims the plan will reduce the cost of restoring power following storms, as well as the number and duration of outages. That would be accomplished in part through microgrids, though the company warned that approach comes with risks.

“The proposed microgrids would provide a decentralized and local source of generation for a defined area following a major storm,” the filing read. “To be clear, at this time, the Company has completed only a planning-level evaluation of microgrids to enhance resilience and is presenting these various microgrid options for consideration and discussion.

“As the Commission and parties consider such alternatives, it is important to understand that the use of microgrids as a tool and a strategy to enhance resilience is novel,” it continued. “Because of its novelty, deploying this technology as a resilience tool involves inherent risk, and it will be important to evaluate the technology carefully before proceeding.”

The 511-page plan filed with the PSC on Monday comes almost six months after Entergy New Orleans proposed a similar grid-hardening plan to the New Orleans City Council.

That proposal, which is expected to cost about $1.5 billion over a decade, “includes a menu of options for the New Orleans City Council to consider including grid resilience, hardening projects, and alternative technologies such as microgrids.”

Entergy New Orleans provides electricity to more than 209,000 customers and natural gas to more than 110,000 customers in Orleans Parish, while Entergy Louisiana serves electricity to more than 1 million customers in 58 parishes, and natural gas to more than 94,000 Baton Rouge customers.

Entergy, which is based in New Orleans, takes in $10 billion in revenue annually and employs 12,000 to serve 3 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

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