Entergy expanding natural gas fleet; dealing with nuclear issues

Entergy (NYSE:ETR) closed its acquisition of the Union natural gas power plant in Arkansas during the first quarter and has made a decision to keep its Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts running until the spring of 2019, company officials noted in an April 26 earnings report.

During the rest of the year the company hopes to address lingering issues at the Arkansas Nuclear One station and win Louisiana PSC approval for the St. Charles Power Station, company officials including Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said.

“We accomplished what we set out to do, including the acquisition of the Union Power Station and the finalization of Entergy Arkansas’ rate case,” Denault said. “In the quarter we also had industrial sales growth of over six percent.”

Entergy hopes to get a regulatory decision on the planned 980 MW St. Charles combined-cycle natural gas plant in the third quarter. The project planned for Montz, Louisiana, could enter operation in June 2019. It is being considered under Louisiana PSC Docket U-33770.

Entergy utilities also have a number of gas-fired combustion turbines in the development pipeline and two potential 1,000-MW combined-cycle plants in the request for proposals (RFP) stage currently.

As for its regulated utility operations, Entergy got 65% of its weather adjusted retail sales for generation in 2015 from natural gas, oil or hydroelectric power. Nuclear accounted for 24% of the energy mix and coal 11%.

In Louisiana, Entergy also began construction on the Lake Charles Transmission Project, a $159m project that will support continued reliable service to a rapidly growing area.

Entergy’s non-utility nuclear units operated under Entergy Wholesale Commodities (EWC) experienced lower energy and capacity prices during the past quarter, which were partly offset by lower fuel and refueling outage expenses as a result of impairments recorded in 2015.

A priority for 2016 is to “strengthen the culture of operational excellence throughout our organization,” the CEO said of the nuclear fleet. Entergy is determined to run the FitzPatrick nuclear plant safely until it shuts down in 2017, Denault said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license renewal cases for Indian Point Units 2 and 3 continue to drag on. Track 1 appeals resolved in Entergy’s favor; two appeals remain pending. The hearings on the Track 2 appeals were occurring during April.

Entergy reported Track 1 appeals resolved in Entergy’s favor; two appeals remain pending. Disputes involving New York Coastal Zone Management and water quality issues are also still being adjudicated.

In response to an analyst question, Entergy officials said they are already starting to replace faulty bolts at Indian Point 2.

Entergy reported first quarter 2016 earnings per share of $1.28 on an as-reported basis and $1.35 on an operational basis. Entergy will hold its analyst day June 9 in New York City.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.