Entergy’s secret solar solicitation


Earlier this morning, Entergy Texas (ETI) sent out a press release, detailing some updates on the utility’s Bright Future plan for Southeast Texas, an investment strategy that the company states will “ensure reliability, create new jobs and spur economic development across Southeast Texas.”

The update plays out in a very standard fashion, with the company sharing accomplishments of breaking ground on the Montgomery County Power Station (993 MW, combined cycle gas turbine), updates on the status of two transmission projects and promise of the “deployment of an advanced meter system.”

However, hidden within the seemingly innocuous update came a point of interest, one that the release itself even glosses over: “in March 2019, Entergy Texas issued a request for proposals (RFP)  for up to 200 MW of solar photovoltaic resources to be located in Texas.”

A quick Google search proved the above to be true, that Entergy, the nation’s 2nd-largest operator of nuclear plants and a historically one of the most resistant utilities to solar in the United States, was hanging a massive RFP right under our noses and nobody noticed it.

Even more strange is that the utility isn’t flat-out requiring the development, but rather states “ETI is interested in procuring up to 200 MWs of Solar PV Resources through a power purchase agreement (“PPA”) as well as an asset acquisition under a build-own-transfer (“BOT”) transaction structure.” Furthermore, the minimum capacity for consideration of a project was set at 75 MW.

What’s more strange is that, in that same announcement of the RFP, the company alleges that it will update the RFP to include a deadline for proposals. After more searching, however, the company has not appeared to have done so yet. The only listed deadline is December 31, 2023, which is the preferred date for asset acquisition.

So how unprecedented is this RFP for Entergy? Well, let’s take a look at the utility’s generation asset portfolio. If you scroll to the bottom of the second table, you’ll notice four unassuming entries. These 2.5 MW were the entirety of Entergy’s solar portfolio as of 2016.

Since then contracted with developers to build large solar plants in Mississippi and Arkansas, but what it is planning in Texas is larger than either of these. Furthermore, it’s odd how little attention the RFP has gathered, with Entergy doing very little to promote the single largest renewable energy project it has ever embarked on.

Maybe Entergy is trying to capitalize on Texas’ impending solar boom. Regardless, we at pv magazine will be sure to follow this RFP when and if new information comes out, as it does.

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