- Entergy Corporation touted its steps to help its commercial and industrial customers meet their sustainability goals in its second quarter earnings call on Wednesday, including plans for a new natural gas and hydrogen facility in Texas and a solar project in Arkansas.
- Overall, the utility reported a 7.1% year-over-year improvement in industrial sales last quarter and said industrial customers' electricity demand is running above 2019 levels, despite the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said on the earnings call that Entergy is "starting at a great place" and anticipates keeping rates below the national average.
- Entergy last month announced it would seek approval for the 1,215 MW Orange County Advanced Power Station, a combined cycle power facility that would use a combination of natural gas and hydrogen, which Denault said would support reliability and environmental goals. The utility also received state approval for the 100 MW Walnut Bend Solar project in Arkansas, which will be in service in 2022.
About 40% of Entergy’s demand comes from industrial and commercial customers and Denault said they are expressing greater interest in using clean energy to meet corporate sustainability goals.
Some twenty customers, including Walmart, have sent nonbinding letters of interest to Entergy laying out their sustainability goals, Denault said, adding that Entergy is working to provide them "some of the cleanest electricity in the country" to lower their scope 2 emissions, or a company’s indirect emissions from electricity purchases. Denault added that Entergy is "developing ways to help customers reduce their Scope one emissions through electrification, including electrification with green options."
The utility is also exploring the use of green tariffs. Entergy recently filed a proposed green tariff in Arkansas to offer designated renewable energy to interested customers.
Entergy is also making a significant push on hydrogen as a clean fuel source. Denault noted that the utility’s geographic positioning among "hydrogen producers, pipeline, storage and consumers" offers a "unique opportunity" to work on the emerging fuel source. Entergy has partnered with Mitsubishi Power on collaborative projects and is participating in the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen Energy Earthshots Initiative, with an aim of securing federal funding for to help jump-start hydrogen demonstration projects.
The Mitsubishi partnership is supporting the new Orange County facility in southeastern Texas. Rod West, group president of utility operations, said on the earnings call that the state approval process should begin around Labor Day and could run another six to 12 months. The hydrogen component of the plant only represents about 5% of the overall cost and West said Entergy will highlight the potential benefits throughout the approval process.
However, Daniel Tait, research and communication manager for the Energy and Policy Institute, said the Orange County plant plans were a disappointing development "in this spot where we need to be accelerating the transition into clean energy right now."
"There’s no need for a new gas plant if you’re also trying to figure out hydrogen generation," Tait said. "If this were going to be 100% hydrogen, this might be different, but there’s no indication that’s where this is going."
Overall, the recovery from the pandemic meant Entergy utilities increased power sales volumes in the second quarter by 8.1% compared to the same quarter in 2020. The company reported consolidated earnings of $269 million, representing a $7 million decline from the year-ago quarter. That included a $340 million impairment from the sale of the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear facility in New York.