There is never a good time for the power to go out. And in an increasingly connected world, that has only become more evident. So, Entergy, envisioning a world where energy flows as uninterrupted and undeterred as a river, is working tirelessly to try to create a grid that is 100% reliable, 24/7/365.
“We want our customers to never have to worry about anything stopping electricity from getting to them when they need it,” said Robbin Jeter, Entergy Mississippi vice president of distribution. “Remember the old Maytag repairman from the TV commercial who was lonely because his company’s products never failed? That’s what we’re striving for.”
That focus has led KeyString Labs, Entergy Services LLC’s innovation center, to develop a pilot program for Entergy Mississippi’s commercial and industrial customers. Called “Power Through,” the program uses Entergy-owned back-up generators to stop power interruptions. While generators are not a new solution, the way in which Entergy and customers use them is. Entergy has found a way to make back-up power benefit both the customer and the community.
“Power Through is an affordable energy resilience service that lets commercial and industrial customers secure back-up power generation at a shared cost and with no up-front capital investment,” said Lyndon Dupont, Power Through’s director of business operations. “Entergy installs, operates and maintains the generator, while the customer pays a monthly fee. During outages, the generator switches on, allowing the business to continue operations.”
“Entergy Mississippi will also use the generator as a miniature power plant for the power grid,” he continued. “The small distributed generators contribute to the system need and serve to benefit all of our customers, and when scaled, this approach can save customers millions of dollars.”
The first customer to sign on to the Power Through program was Quitman County Health and Rehab. Entergy replaced the facility’s old, partial-coverage generator with a larger, 130-kW generator that powers the entire operation, from critical care needs to air conditioning to the facility’s kitchen.
When Ronnie Warrington, the facility’s administrator, first heard about the program, he immediately recognized the myriad issues it would address. Warrington described the harrowing effects of a power outage earlier this year.
“In January, we had a three-day power outage when a storm came through. We had residents on oxygen and automatic feeding pumps, and we had to wheel them from their bedrooms because the old generator only powered part of the building and only certain plugs,” said Warrington. “We were without air and had to bring up generators from Jackson to supply energy throughout the building. That meant running wire, plugs and cords everywhere, which is a serious fall hazard for the 60-plus elderly people here.”
“If you live in Mississippi, you know a storm can come up in seconds that can result in a power outage,” he continued. “With the new generator, we don’t have to fret, we don’t have to worry. We know we’ll be able to cover all our residents’ needs and everything will be business as usual. It gives our staff, our residents and their families peace of mind.”
Entergy Mississippi expects to have more customers’ generators come online soon. The company will monitor the program, study results and potentially expand the offering to other businesses, and possibly make it available to residential customers and smaller businesses. To find out how your business can take part in the Power Through program, contact your local Entergy Mississippi customer service partner or visit powerthrough.entergy.com.
“KeyString Labs is very excited to see this project go from concept to reality,” said Ross Thistlethwaite, a member of KeyString Labs’ Power Through team who served as project manager. “The concepts that we come up with couldn’t be brought to reality without the help of hundreds of employees who spend hours each week outside of their regular jobs and responsibilities to help design and launch products and services that create solutions for our customers.”
This new solution is but one that Entergy’s KeyString Labs has implemented. The innovation center also helped create:
- Shore Power, a beneficial electrification service that helps customers reach their sustainability goals by leveraging Entergy’s cleaner generation profile. Through Shore Power, Entergy Louisiana and Edison Chouest Offshore recently partnered to build the first utility-scale shore power installation at Port Fourchon, where there vessels are now able to plug into the grid. The port plays a role in providing some 20 percent of the nation’s oil supply. The plan is to expand Shore Power to the other Entergy utilities, including Entergy Mississippi. Entergy engages directly with its customers to design and construct the solution while providing ongoing customer support for reliability and emissions calculations.
- Renewable New Orleans, a pilot program that puts solar panels on the rooftops of low-income customers’ homes and gives them a $30 credit on their energy bills every month, rain or shine. The program is a way for New Orleans customers in need to participate in the benefits of distributed renewable energy by allowing the company to install utility-owned and operated panels on their homes with no complicated leases or upfront cash. It is an innovative way to help create a sustainable energy future for New Orleans.