The city of New Orleans has been big on fossil fuels for decades. Now, thanks to growing interest and demand, solar energy is growing in the Crescent City. While most of the New Orleans solar installations have been from residents making the switch to green energy, Entergy New Orleans may soon be doing the same-and not necessarily by choice.
The New Orleans City Council, which has discussed instituting a Renewable Energy Standard in the past, has released the details for their plan. This is a very exciting moment for the New Orleans solar industry, and for renewable energy advocates. A Renewable Energy Standard, or RPS, basically says that utility companies must generate a certain amount of their electricity for the city from renewable energy sources by a certain date. Many cities and states have an RPS, from Austin, Texas, which is set at 55% by 2025, or New Mexico, which has an RPS of 100% by 2050.
Now the New Orleans City Council is doing the same. They are demanding that Entergy generate 40% of its electricity from renewable sources like solar panels by 2040. This may seem like a daunting task, especially considering that currently the majority of power comes from natural gas and other fossil fuels. However, there is great potential in New Orleans for solar energy. It was ranked 13th in the nation for solar capacity for 2018 alone. And as anyone who lives in the Big Easy can tell you, they certainly get enough sunshine.
Although residential rooftop solar panels have become very common, utility scale solar has yet to catch up. That may be changing soon though, especially in light of this new RPS. In the past, former Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice said that the company would “pursue up to 100 megawatts of renewable resources.” But since then, only roughly 4.5 MW of solar power has actually been installed. This may not come as a surprise, however, given that Charles Rice was president of Entergy New Orleans when it was discovered that they had hired a group of actors to fake support for a new gas plant.
But Charles Rice was demoted in August 2018, and it seems like the new leadership is tackling the proposed New Orleans solar project with gusto. Instead of empty promises, they appear to actually be delivering. Entergy New Orleans is planning to build three new solar farms, which when completed will have a total power generation of 90 MW.
One of these Entergy New Orleans solar projects will be constructed at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility. The other two will be built by third parties, with Entergy purchasing the electricity produced. Those two farms will produce 50 MW, and 20 MW. Combined, they will go a long way to meet the new RPS set by the City Council.
Choosing to run the city on a clean, renewable energy source is a very exciting development for New Orleans. Solar panels provide greater savings, and have an average lifespan of 25 years. It’s no wonder why leaders have decided to switch New Orleans to solar. Sunpro Solar is looking forward to bright days ahead in New Orleans with clean solar energy.