Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar, said that regulators in Louisiana have approved a power purchase agreement for the 98 MWac Bayou Galion solar project that the company has planned for construction in Morehouse Parish in Northeast Louisiana.
Projected to both start construction and begin operations in 2024, the Bayou Galion solar project is part of 1803 Electric Cooperative’s recently approved power generation portfolio to supply energy to five Louisiana rural electric cooperatives for the next 20 years. The approved portfolio includes 343 MW of solar energy, including the Bayou Galion solar project. According to the most recent Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie data, current through Q4 2021, Louisiana as a whole has installed just over 202 MW of solar to date.
While Louisiana has historically been a fossil-heavy state, cracks are beginning to show, and more and more solar is beginning to get approved. One such project not just approved but under construction is the Ventress Solar project, which, at 345MWdc, will be the largest in the state when it is completed some time in 2023. In Louisiana, as has been true other places in the south, the decision to commit to renewables via almost exclusively large-scale solar installations is more about providing low-cost electricity than it is about fighting emissions or climate change.
“Solar energy is the lowest cost new energy resource across the U.S. and we are pleased to support 1803 Electric Coop’s goals to bring lower rates for its members,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar. “We look forward to continuing to advance the development of the Bayou Galion solar project and starting construction in 2024.”
That isn’t to say that Louisiana’s solar commitments are entirely large-scale. In March, New Orleans launched its citywide community solar program, under which the city will construct a series of solar gardens, which interested residents can purchase a “share” of, and receive a credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. Participation is open to all electric customers within the city, even those who participate in other utility-sponsored renewable programs, like net metering. Customers may not subscribe to project shares that would exceed 100% of their annual energy usage, nor can a single customer subscribe to more than a 40% interest in a single project. In 2019, the City Council has approved Entergy’s plan to add 90 MW of solar power to the city via three projects.
Over the next five years, Louisiana is expected by the SEIA and Wood Mackenzie to add 1,170MW of new solar capacity which, while only good for 27th in the nation over that time, is exponential growth relative to the state’s history.
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