Opinion: Entergy installing 1000 megawatts of solar energy – Northside Sun
Entergy Mississippi recently announced a new plan that will benefit not only our customers, but the entire state by making us more attractive in the highly competitive world of economic development. Last week, we announced plans to replace some aging natural gas plants over the next five years with 1,000 MW of renewable energy, primarily solar power. This will be the largest expansion of renewable energy in our state’s history.
Faced with a need for increased power production to meet our customers’ future demands, we researched what would be the most beneficial course for them. Called EDGE, for “Economic Development with Green Energy,” the strategy will give Mississippi an edge in recruiting industry and jobs while at the same time giving our customers an effective hedge against volatile natural gas prices.
Under the EDGE plan, Entergy Mississippi will add 1,000 MW of renewable power to its portfolio by 2027 — enough to power 160,000 homes. This will increase renewable power as a percentage of our total power generation portfolio from less than 1% now, to almost one-third renewable in only five years. This will give Entergy Mississippi one of the fastest-growing renewable power portfolios in the country.
Historically, major industries looking to locate new facilities and create new jobs have chosen locations based on a state’s tax and incentive structure, site availability and labor force. Today there is a new factor in their decision-making: renewable power. Many major companies have requirements that their facilities receive a certain amount of power from renewable sources. States that cannot provide a significant level of renewable power are automatically eliminated from site searches without another look. Mississippi will not have much of a chance in attracting new industry without a plentiful supply of renewable power. With our EDGE plan, Entergy will be giving the state a clear EDGE in recruiting new jobs.
The advantages are not just limited to economic development. The EDGE plan could have easily been short for “Energy Diversity is Good for Everybody.” Smart investors keep their financial portfolios diverse to reduce the risk of volatility from any one area. The same principal applies to managing our power generation portfolio. Having all our power “eggs” in one basket risks unexpected rate increases to our customers when commodity prices go up in any one area. That is why Entergy Mississippi has consistently managed one of the most diverse energy portfolios of any utility and this program will help us continue to do so.
Renewable energy resource costs continue to decline making them more economical than in years past. While natural gas currently makes up the majority of our power generation portfolio, following the implementation of the EDGE plan, our fuel generation mix will be more balanced with about 45% natural gas and the rest from other fuel sources such as renewable and nuclear power. At a time of volatile natural gas prices, adding renewable power to our existing portfolio, ensures our customers have access to diverse, reliable, clean and affordable power for years to come.
Mississippi communities will also see the benefits of new construction jobs and new tax revenue as a result of these renewable power plants, all being built locally. I am proud of the work our employees have put into the EDGE plan. It is our firm belief that it will have a positive impact on power bills and paychecks in Mississippi for the rest of this decade and decades to come.
Haley Fisackerly is President and CEO of Entergy Mississippi.