Entergy New Orleans plans cutting-edge solar/battery project for 2016 startup

Entergy New Orleans announced May 12 that it plans a 1-MW solar project, which will be for the city of New Orleans the first utility-scale solar project that not only harnesses the power of the sun, but stores it as well.

The project will pilot the integration of utility-scale solar generation and state-of-the-art battery storage technology while simultaneously establishing a benchmark for utility-scale solar generation performance in the New Orleans metro area, said this Entergy Corp. (NYSE: ETR) subsidiary. The 1-MW project, which will be built on existing company property off Chef Menteur Highway, will consist of more than 4,000 solar panels and is estimated to be in service by late 2016. Entergy New Orleans went through a competitive proposal process to identify the preferred vendor.

“As part of our resource planning process, we are committed to studying and evaluating renewable energy resources that make sense for the customers and city we serve,” said Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans. “This project will allow us to study the feasibility of utility-scale solar here in New Orleans and also the extent to which battery storage can help compensate for the intermittency of sunlight.”

On blue-sky days, the sun is at its peak between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is when solar panels are most efficient at converting sunlight into electrical energy. However, blue-sky days aren’t always guaranteed, and the sun’s peak doesn’t typically coincide with customers’ summer peak usage during late afternoon hours.

“Here in the South, and particularly along the Gulf Coast, cloud cover and thunderstorms can pose a problem when relying on the sun for energy,” said Rice. “By combining solar panels with battery technology, we can evaluate the potential to technically and economically store and deliver solar energy to our customers when they need it most.”

Every three years, Entergy New Orleans files an integrated resource plan with the New Orleans City Council. The last IRP was filed in October 2012 and the next is scheduled for October 2015. In September 2014, the council adopted a resolution and order establishing a procedural schedule to consider utility-scale renewable technologies as part of Entergy New Orleans’ integrated resource planning process. This pilot utility-scale solar and battery storage project will help with future integrated resource plans developed for New Orleans.

Entergy New Orleans is an electric and gas utility that serves Louisiana’s Orleans Parish. The company provides electricity to more than 171,000 customers and natural gas to around 105,000 customers.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.