Amid the state's burgeoning industrial revival, Entergy Louisiana moved forward Tuesday with plans to build an $869 million natural gas-burning power plant in St. Charles Parish, which the utility says is so efficient that it will save customers more than $1.3 billion in fuel costs over a 30-year span.
The St. Charles Power Station in Montz, which is expected to be operating by 2019, will be capable of generating 980 megawatts of electricity daily — enough power to satisfy New Orleans' electrical needs on the hottest day of the year when air conditioners are working overtime.
One megawatt is enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.
State officials and Entergy executives, including Gov. John Bel Edwards and Entergy Corp. Chairman and CEO Leo Denault, attended a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at the planned site, which is adjacent to the utility's existing Little Gypsy power plant.
"This project is really part of a larger strategy to upgrade our existing infrastructure," said Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana.
On an individual basis, a typical Entergy Louisiana customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of power per month will pay an additional $1.92 per month for the first year the plant is operating, company officials said.
Once work is completed, the plant is expected to have 31 full-time workers, the utility said.
In 2015, Entergy Louisiana flipped the switch on a $665 million natural-gas burning facility in Westwego, which added 560 megawatts to its portfolio. The power plant, called Ninemile 6, was the utility's first new power plant added to the Entergy Louisiana fleet in nearly three decades.
Entergy Louisiana, a subsidiary of New Orleans utility giant Entergy Corp., provides electric service to more than 1 million Louisiana customers.
An abundance of cheap natural gas has led to tens of billions of dollars’ worth of planned investment in major industrial projects throughout Louisiana. Officials speaking at Tuesday's ceremony frequently noted that more power resources will be necessary in the coming years as new projects come online.
Combined-cycle gas turbine units rely on two sources of energy — combustion and steam turbines — to generate electricity.
To do so, air is pulled through an evaporative cooling system into a series of gas combustion turbines before being compressed and ignited, turning generators to create electricity. Exhaust heat from the gas turbines is captured and used to create steam that drives a traditional steam turbine generator, which produces additional electricity, increasing the unit’s efficiency and output.