- Entergy Mississippi laid out plans on Wednesday to replace an undisclosed number of "aging natural gas" plants with renewable energy, such as solar installations.
- The subsidiary of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. said it plans to add 1,000 MW of renewable power over the next five years.
- Entergy Mississippi's decision to beef up its renewable portfolio is part of a larger economic development and a rate stabilization plan designed to help counteract soaring natural gas costs at its gas-fired electric plants.
Under its newly minted Economic Development with Green Energy, or EDGE, initiative, Entergy Mississippi plans to add 500 MW of renewable power by 2025, and another 500 MW by 2027, the utility stated in a press release.
The buildout will dramatically expand Entergy Mississippi's renewable portfolio, which today accounts for less than 1% of the power it generates for its roughly 450,000 customers.
The utility plans to expand that amount of power coming from solar and other renewables to 17% by mid-decade and then to nearly a third by 2027, making Entergy Mississippi's renewable power portfolio "one of the fastest-growing in the country," the company said.
Entergy Mississippi, which has six natural gas-fired plants in the state, has not said which ones it plans to close. The two oldest gas plants are in Vicksburg and Greenville, which opened in 1967 and 1975, respectively, according to the Associated Press.
"Entergy's EDGE plan will help Mississippi in its efforts to become energy independent, and increase the already wide range of energy options available to customers," Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said in a press statement.
Entergy Mississippi said its EDGE plan has two goals: to give state officials an edge in recruiting major companies to set up shop in the Magnolia State, while also helping insulate customers against "volatile natural gas prices" at a time when the majority of the utility's power is generated by gas-fired plants.
Power companies have seen the cost of generating electricity with natural gas nearly double over the past year. U.S. electric utilities are now paying $5.12 per million British thermal units for natural gas, up from $2.39 per MMBtu last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
By greening its power portfolio, Entergy Mississippi will also help boost its attractiveness to companies looking for states to expand in, said Brandon Presley, northern district commissioner on the Mississippi Public Service Commission, which regulates the state's utilities.
Ramping up its plans, the utility said it will begin issuing requests for proposals early next year for multiple renewable energy projects. Recurrent Energy, Entergy Mississippi's development partner, kicked off work in August on a 100-megawatt solar facility in Sunflower County.
The solar complex will provide electricity to approximately 16,000 homes when it hits the grid next year, the utility said.
"Economic development across the nation is moving faster by the day toward states that harness and develop clean, renewable energy," Presley said in a statement. "We can't expect to compete in the modern economy without a strategy for providing the business community with clean, renewable power."