Entergy leadership hosted elected officials, community leaders and other dignitaries yesterday at existing company property in New Orleans East to break ground on the city’s first utility-scale solar project.
The 1 megawatt pilot project, which is expected to be in service by mid-2016, will be the only utility-scale solar installation in the Entergy system – and one of only a few in the country – to integrate state-of-the-art battery-storage technology.
“The future, which we all have to be ready for to secure our economy, to secure our jobs, is in renewable energy. We are an energy state. We should be leading the nation in what is going to happen next," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "And the all-of-the-strategy is exactly right. It takes major companies like Entergy to lead that way. Instead of pushing back and saying we are not going to think about what the future is bringing us, we have to get ready for it because we can actually lead the next generation of energy."
"This pilot project is of great value to our customers,” said Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans. “One of the issues with solar panels is availability on cloudy days, at night or generating enough electricity at the right time of day when energy usage peaks. Our pilot project will evaluate the ability to store and deliver solar energy to the electricity grid when customers need it – not just when the sun is shining.”
In addition to providing information for future integrated resource planning, with over 4,000 solar panels the project will generate enough electricity to power approximately 160 average homes, according to industry statistics. That electricity will be fed directly into the distribution grid benefiting all New Orleans customers.
“Just like with our electric transmission system upgrade project, we’re proud to be on the cutting edge of implementing new technology,” said Rice. “New Orleans has come a long way in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. The city is booming, is positioned for continued economic growth and development and we are glad to support that.”
“What’s going to create a new economy, what is going to create new jobs, what is going to create a stable energy grid in the most difficult of times is building a resilient community," Landrieu said.
On a systemwide level, Entergy is working across its operating companies to gain the necessary information and expertise to help make renewables a viable, cost-effective option for customers. Besides the New Orleans project, other solar projects are underway in Arkansas and Mississippi.
Blattner Energy, a diversified power generation contractor with expertise in renewable energy, will begin construction on the New Orleans project this month. South Coast Solar, a local panel installation company, will assist Blattner Energy.
Entergy New Orleans, Inc. is an electric and gas utility that serves Louisiana’s Orleans Parish. The company provides electricity to more than 194,000 customers and natural gas to some 105,000 customers. Entergy New Orleans is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation.