Sold

An 1,100 acre tract of undeveloped land near the intersection of Plains Port Hudson Road and Highway 964 that belonged to former Zachary businessman Mike Worley, has been sold for $8.7 million.

The backers of a new gas-fired electrical plant proposed for Iberville Parish bought more than 112 acres along the Mississippi River for the complex.

The 730-megawatt Magnolia Power Generating Station would be an important, stable source of power for a collection of Louisiana electrical cooperatives also eyeing solar power as part of the mix for their future needs.

The $2.1 million land purchase along the Mississippi River was filed Tuesday, about a month and a half after state regulators had granted Magnolia Power critical air permits that authorized the plant to begin operations. 

Kyle Marionneaux, an attorney for the collection of electrical cooperatives, known as 1803 Electric Cooperative Inc., said the land purchase combined with the recent closing on financing suggest the gas plant remains on schedule for the cooperatives' plans. The cooperative is alliance of five utility groups: Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Claiborne Electric Cooperative, Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative, South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association and Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative Inc.

"My understanding is they're on pace," Marionneaux said Friday. "The 1803 cooperatives don't need it until 2025, and my understanding is they're hitting their benchmarks to get there."

Executives with Kindle Energy of New Jersey, which is behind the Magnolia Power station, didn't return a request for comment Friday sent to the company's general email box.

The cooperatives plan to use a little more than half of the Magnolia station's power. Separately, they have inked agreements to take power from three future solar installations: the 98 megawatt Bayou Galion Solar in Morehouse Parish, 95 megawatt Bayou Teche Solar in St. Mary Parish and 150 megawatt Bayou Chicot Solar in Evangeline Parish. 

Bayou Galion Solar is owned by Recurrent Energy and Bayou Teche Solar and Bayou Chicot Solar are owned by ibV Energy Partners.

The electrical cooperatives have 20-year agreements with the natural gas plant and the solar farms, which are supposed to be ready to supply power by the first quarter of 2025.

With additional agreements with two other power providers, the cooperatives plan to have 1,000 megawatts of power in total for their 120,000 customers by 2025. The cooperatives' overall plan is part of historic agreement state regulators adopted earlier this year.

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Entergy and other power utilities are eying solar and other renewable power as part of their energy mix as they try to shift gradually from fossil fuels.

During air permit hearings in February for the gas plant, a collection of residents and activists argued against the Magnolia power station. They argued its new greenhouse gas emissions would fly in the face of Gov. John Bel Edwards' long-term climate goals and represent another industrial facility with fine particulate and hazardous air emissions located near poor minority communities along the river.

In a their final decision in early June, state Department of Environmental Quality officials found that the high-efficiency plant would replace power from less efficient, higher polluting plants that produce more greenhouse gases per unit of energy and, thereby, would improve air quality on a net basis.

At the same time, DEQ found carbon capture technology, which Edwards is pushing as part of his climate plan, was too expensive and technically infeasible for the gas plant, though it could transition to carbon-free hydrogen fuel at some point in the future.

DEQ officials also found that the plant's annual hazardous and fine particulate emissions didn't rise to set significance levels that would have required deeper analysis and modeling of their impact on surrounding areas.

Environmental groups challenged DEQ's use of those significance levels as an improper evasion of more rigorous air modeling, a charge DEQ flatly disputed as not in keeping with their internal guidance and the law.

In comments, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also questioned aspects of the air permits, including that the state's review of whether the plant posed a disparate impact on minority communities, also known as environmental justice analysis.

DEQ officials pointed out that Magnolia Power shifted its location, from an original site on River Road to one closer to plants like Shintech and power lines and farther from communities and wetlands.

Greg Langley, DEQ spokesman, said agency officials believe they addressed the EPA concerns before the final air permits were issued.

EPA spokespersons in Dallas, Texas, did not return emails for comment on Friday.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com.