Of all the big power companies in the South, Entergy has been the last to adopt large-scale solar, well behind Southern Company, Duke and NextEra. One reason may be that in addition to its utility arms the company is the second-largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States. However, given Entergy’s depth of resistance to the Energy Transition company culture is likely a factor as well.
But now even Entergy is coming around to big solar.
In the wake of an ongoing scandal where Entergy New Orleans has been found to have knowingly hiring actors to fake support for a gas plant, the company’s utility in neighboring Mississippi has contracted with Recurrent Energy to build a 100 MW-AC solar project in Sunflower County, which Entergy Mississippi will own when it is completed in mid-2022.
The Sunflower project will be double the size of the largest solar plant built in the state to date, and will increase the capacity online in the state by around 50% on its own, over the 228 MW-DC that has been identified by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
It will also be Entergy Mississippi’s first large-scale solar plant, as all of the solar projects larger than 1 MW that have been built in the state provide power to other utilities, and the largest solar plant to date in the service area of any Entergy utility.
Recurrent parent company Canadian Solar says that the project will use single-axis trackers, but little other information has been provided. The contract calls for Entergy to pay $138 million for the project, which at a 1.4:1 DC to AC ratio means that the plant will be built for around $1 per watt-DC.
This deal must still be approved by Mississippi regulators. And while Canadian Solar notes that this is one of the first build-transfer agreements for solar to be signed in the United States, many of the monopoly utilities in neighboring Florida have shown a preference for owning and rate-basing solar projects.