The only utility company to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for 19 consecutive years, Entergy is among the top 20% of companies on the continent when it comes to demonstrating sustainable business practices. So Entergy leaders knew what they were talking about when they pledged in 2019 to lower their carbon emission rate to half of year-2000 levels by 2030, then followed up in 2020 by announcing their plan to attain net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Getting there is a long journey with multiple pathways. Three ongoing major projects illustrate how innovation, partnership and service will propel success, while also offering major appeal to commercial and industrial customers looking to green their own footprints.
In September 2020, Entergy and Mitsubishi Power, a global leader in power generation and storage, signed a joint development agreement in which they will collaborate to bring decarbonization projects to Entergy’s utility businesses in Arkansas, Louisiana (including the separate jurisdiction of New Orleans), Mississippi and Texas. Mitsubishi Power is a first mover in hydrogen-enabled gas turbine and long- and short- term storage solutions. It also provides the world’s first and only standard integrated green hydrogen packages. The two organizations will focus on a number of areas with great economic development potential:
“For two decades, sustainability has been a priority for Entergy,” said Paul Hinnenkamp, Entergy’s executive vice president and COO. “New technologies and innovative solutions to the challenges posed by climate change present opportunities for us to significantly decrease carbon emissions from our generation portfolio while maintaining low rates. We are pleased to welcome Mitsubishi Power as a collaborative partner in developing strategies to integrate these new technologies and solutions that support us achieving our environmental and customer commitments.”
For its part, Mitsubishi Power is on the forefront of innovative technologies aimed at a carbon-free grid. In March 2020, the company announced the sale of its first hydrogen-capable advanced-class gas turbines, which will enable a power plant in Utah to move from coal to a mixture of 30 percent hydrogen with natural gas by 2025, ramping to 100 percent green hydrogen fuel by 2045. Also in 2020, the company announced a 200-MW lithium-ion battery storage project in Texas (its largest to date) and the world’s first green hydrogen standard packages for power balancing and energy storage.
“In recent years we have supported Entergy on three large power projects that the utility executed on schedule and on budget as part of a multi-year project to modernize the power generation fleet and voluntarily reduce carbon emissions,” said Paul Browning, Mitsubishi Power America’s president and CEO. “Now, we’re proud to work with Entergy on the next phase of decarbonization.”
The companies are wasting no time completing that work. Entergy Texas, Inc.’s Montgomery County Power Station achieved commercial operation in January with two Mitsubishi Power advanced gas turbines to bring 993 MW of reliable, cleaner electricity to Southeast Texas. Mitsubishi Power is delivering all of its advanced class gas turbines with built-in capability for operating on a mixture of up to 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas, with the option to operate on up to 100% hydrogen in the future.
“We are pleased that the plant achieved commercial operation well ahead of schedule and is now using Mitsubishi Power’s advanced class gas turbine technology for cleaner and more efficient power to meet our growing demand,” said Sallie Rainer, president and CEO of Entergy Texas. “The new plant provides improved reliability, cleaner energy and substantial cost savings for our customers.”
ON-RAMP TO THE EV HIGHWAY
Power plant emissions are one thing. Tailpipe emissions are another. Entergy’s engaged in reducing both.
The company’s Green Fleet Strategy launched in 2008 aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption by 20% by 2020, but crossed the finish line five years early. Now it’s part of a coalition aiming to get an early jump on the EV revolution.
The Edison Electric Institute estimates 18 million EVs will be on U.S. roads by 2030, with range anxiety the No. 1 obstacle. In March, Entergy and five other major U.S. utilities announced a new plan to ease that anxiety with a seamless network of charging stations connecting major highway systems from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest and South, and into the Gulf Coast and Central Plains regions.
The Electric Highway Coalition — comprising American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority — announced an unprecedented plan for a network of direct-current fast chargers for electric vehicles. The companies are each taking steps to provide EV charging solutions within their service territories. Sites along major highway routes with easy highway access and amenities for travelers are being considered as coalition members work to determine final charging station locations. Charging stations will provide DC fast chargers that can get drivers back on the road in approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
“At Entergy, we are taking an integrated approach toward a carbon-free future that includes working with industry peers and customers to electrify other sectors of the economy like transportation and the maritime industry,” said Leo Denault, chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation. “Initiatives like this proposed regional EV charging corridor will help lower transportation emissions and provide community benefits for all our stakeholders.”
To further execute its strategy, Entergy has recently invested in more than 40 strategically located charging stations to be used by its growing EV fleet, which allows for nearly 90 vehicles to charge simultaneously. Starting in 2023, Entergy’s fleet plan is for all passenger vehicles, fork-lifts, pallet jacks, etc., to be all-electric where readily available from the manufacturer. Also, 80% of the company’s aerial units will be powered by electricity by 2031.
Even before the big coalition announcement, Entergy was proactive in the EV world. Andrew P. Jacques, project manager, Business and Economic Development, with Entergy New Orleans, notes his company’s team is currently working with the city to deploy 30 to 50 level 2 EV chargers scattered throughout Orleans Parish. “Electrification of vehicles is still in its infancy across our area, but by making investments similar to this it will spur EV adoption and create opportunity for local electrical contractors,” he tells me. “Helping spur EV adoption will support our goals of reducing the city’s carbon footprint and fostering a greener environment for all New Orleanians.”
PLUGGING INTO PORTS
Among the strongest assets in Entergy territory are multiple Gulf Coast ports, from New Orleans to Port Arthur, Texas — the world’s largest port system in aggregate. Now a new program offers shippers more than the usual low rates and reliable service.
It’s called Shore Power, part of the gradual electrification of ports that is allowing shippers to reduce their emissions. With Shore Power, Entergy’s innovation department KeyString Labs enables ships at port to take advantage of clean, inexpensive Entergy electricity to save money and reduce emissions. As the utility explains, “ships at berth typically use diesel-fueled auxiliary engines to provide the power they need. Shore power technology enables these vessels to plug into the local electricity grid and turn off engines while at dock. When using shore power, ship auxiliary systems, such as lighting, air conditioning and crew berths, are powered by the grid.”
“Shore power systems can be effective at significantly reducing ship pollutant emissions at dock,” says a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment. “Under the right circumstances when a vessel is connected to shore power, overall pollutant emissions can be reduced by up to 98%.”
In 2020, Entergy and Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) partnered to build the first utility-scale shore power installation at Port Fourchon in Louisiana. The installation extends Entergy’s local distribution system to simultaneously accommodate 10 ECO marine vessels at port.
“We’re proud to partner with Entergy Louisiana on what could become a model for ports across the world by adding value for customers and communities through significant emissions reductions,” said Dino Chouest, executive vice president of ECO. “It’s a win for everyone.”
More opportunity for Shore Power lurks on the horizon: Entergy has 37 ports in its service area, seven of which are among the 20 largest in the United States.
But that’s not all that’s going on at Entergy territory ports when it comes to clean power and economic development. The Gulf may only get windy when a storm blows through, but its ports are seeing their fair share of wind turbine blades passing through on their way to major wind farms in Texas and elsewhere. Karl Segura of Entergy Texas says he sees the blades all the time passing through the Port of Beaumont, which also happens to be the No. 1 military cargo port in the country. The scale of them even impresses Texans.
“When you stand next to them,” he says of the blades, “it’s amazing to see how big they really are.”
RENEWABLES ON PARADE
Entergy since 2000 has replaced 30% of its generation resources with cleaner alternatives that, on average, have a 50% lower emissions profile. In 2020, renewable resources (solar, wind, renewable energy credits, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, and waste heat) supplied approximately 2.7 million MWh, or approximately 2% of total electric demand, to Entergy’s utility customers. (Entergy also operates four nuclear facilities as part of its clean power portfolio.)
Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Arkansas are the largest renewable energy providers in their respective states, and now the company is constructing the largest utility-owned solar facility in Mississippi. Entergy Mississippi partnered with Recurrent Energy on Sunflower County Solar, a new 100-MW solar energy farm in Sunflower County. Recurrent Energy is building the facility on approximately 1,000 acres. The project should be complete by no later than mid-2022, when Entergy will assume ownership for the life of the facility. The installation’s 350,000 PV solar modules will generate enough power for more than 16,000 homes.
In total, Entergy has 537 MW of renewables available, approximately 445 MW of solar installations in progress, and another 380 MW announced. In addition, it has two requests for proposals for solar resources totaling 500 MW and plans to solicit more than 800 additional solar MWs in 2021. Among the highlights so far:
The Entergy Intelligence Report was originally published in the May 2021 issue of Site Selection Magazine.