power lines

Crew trucks from Volt Power in Houston — contracted by Entergy Louisiana — work on upgrading technology in Sulphur as part of an ongoing improvement project by the company.

A lot of positive things are happening in Southwest Louisiana,” Entergy representative Calvin Thibodeaux told the Daily News in an interview this week.

On that list is the groundbreaking this past January of Entergy’s $872 million Lake Charles Power Station at 3500 Houston River Rd. The new station is adjacent to their existing Roy S. Nelson Plant and is expected to be operational by June of 2020.

The 994-megawatt plant is a combined-cycle gas turbine plant, fueled by natural gas. At the groundbreaking earlier this year, Entergy Louisiana President and CEO Phillip May said, “It will be the cleanest generating unit in our fleet when it begins operation.” The LCPS is projected be 30 percent more efficient than existing legacy plants and emit around 40 percent less carbon dioxide than Entergy’s legacy natural gas-fire plants.

When the LCPS is complete in 2020, Entergy Louisiana will have replaced half of its generating fleet in about 15 years with modern, highly-efficient gas-fired units.

Thibodeaux said that the estimated cost of the project to residential customers averaging around 1,000 kilowatt hours a month will be $3.55. “But, depending on future gas prices, projected fuel savings will be $1.68 to $1.85,” he said. “So, the net increase showing on your bill is (going to be) $1.70 to $1.87.”

Overall savings for Louisiana customers are expected to be between $1.3 billion and $2 billion over the plant’s 30-year life. Thibodeaux said anticipated savings are projected to exceed construction costs in fewer than 10 years.

According to the Louisiana Public Service Commission, July rates for Southwest Louisiana customers are the lowest in the state, and among the lowest in the nation, with Legacy Gulf States 1,000 kWh residential customers paying $90.26 to the state’s $104.38 average.

To give a sense of the LC Power Station’s production capability, Thibodeaux explained it will produce enough energy to meet the average power needs of around 675,000 typical Louisiana homes. Of course, it will be providing energy not only to residential but to business and industrial clients as well.

Entergy representative Margaret Harris said the decision to locate in Westlake was made in no small part based on several advantages the site offered. One advantage was the transmission infrastructure already in place. “It didn’t necessarily have to be sited in Westlake,” said Harris. “The goal was for it to, at least, be west of the Atchafalaya Basin.”

Locating in Westlake precluded the expenditure of about $600 million in transmission projects and upgrades needed for reliability.

According to an analysis by economist Dr. Loren Scott, the construction phase will generate around 1,200 direct and indirect jobs across the state, increase state business sales by around $1.2 billion, and grow household incomes by $419 million. Seven hundred people will work on-site during construction and, once complete, Entergy expects to employ about 30 people.