It’s not often that positive solar news comes out of the state of Louisiana, a state which has put on-line less than 200 MW of capacity thus far, so when two major announcements come in the same day, they’re going to draw attention.
The first item to grab attention comes via Helios Infrastructure, a joint venture between Nationwide and Sol Systems, as the company has purchased the largest solar power project in the state, the 50 MW West Baton Rouge Project, from Depcom Power. The installation is located in West Baton Rouge Parish, and it is now owned and operated by Helios, with Entergy purchasing the energy generated via a 20-year power purchase agreement.
The acquisition marks the largest single project investment for Helios to date.
And while the state of Louisiana and, by extension, the utilities that operate in the state have been historically averse to solar development, there is hope that the completion and sale of this project will spur future solar installations in the state. Entergy specifically has been looking to expand its solar presence, having previously asked the Louisiana Public Service Commission for support in bringing an additional 250 MW of solar capacity on-line in the state.
The company attributes this newfound interest in solar to the significant price drops of solar panels over the last decade, as well as the increased energy demands Entergy has recently seen for its more than 1 million customers.
Additionally, the utility announced last week that is looking to achieve “net-zero emissions” by 2050, though this comes with a caveat. While it certainly seems like solar will play an increased role in this transition, Entergy has also laid out its intent to have natural gas make up as much as a quarter of its electric capacity by 2050, which you can read more about in the Morning Brief.
From the ground to the roof
Sticking to the theme of large Entergy solar installations, this morning, the company announced that it completed the largest commercial rooftop solar project in Louisiana.
Located on TCI’s warehouses near the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal in New Orleans, the project clocks in at 2.4 MW, with approximately 7,000 solar panels covering nearly 240,000 square feet of rooftop space. The project is currently owned and operated by Entergy and will feed energy directly into the Entergy New Orleans electric distribution grid.
According to the utility, this most recent installation comes as a part of its newfound focus to install solar on buildings owned by educational institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations in Orleans Parish.
Previously, the company has focused on residential rooftop installations, recently announcing the completion of its 100th residential installations under its ReNEWable Orleans Residential Rooftop Solar Program, a program the the utility claims it is looking to expand. While 100 installations in a city of nearly 400,000 residents may appear insignificant, any level of developmental commitment in a state that has been historically combative towards solar is a step forward. Remember, this is the same utility that, just two years ago, used paid actors posing as citizen advocates to show support for a gas plant that Entergy New Orleans wanted to build.
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