Road Map to the Future Take II:
Alternative Options to the proposed Combustion Turbine Power Plant in New Orleans East
Over the past few months there has been quite a bit of talk about Entergy New Orleans’ Integrated Resource Plan. Entergy New Orleans, the electric and gas utility provider for the city of New Orleans, has created what is known as an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a twenty year plan outlining how electricity will be provided to the city. The IRP must be approved by the New Orleans City Council.
There are two main issues that the 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is attempting to address:
- Peaking Power – power on the hottest days of the year when demand for energy is high.
- Resilience – making the city less vulnerable to transmission “islanding”(being disconnected from the national energy grid) in the face of large weather events.
To address these issues Entergy New Orleans determined that the best way to meet these needs is to build a natural gas Combustion Turbine Power Plant at the site of the Michoud power plant in New Orleans East. The 59 year old Michoud plant was shut down in June, 2016.
The Alliance for Affordable Energy, a 31-year-old consumer and environmental advocacy group, does not support Entergy’s statements that the CT power plant is the best way to safely meet the need for peaking power, or make the city more resilient. As a result, the Alliance for Affordable Energy has created an Integrated Resilience Plan (IResP) to outline other ways to address peak power needs and resilience without building a costly power plant in a vulnerable location. The Alliance has developed 3 portfolios to address peaking power needs and resilience without putting communities at risk.
To be clear, the Alliance supports local generating capacity in Orleans Parish. The very real danger of storm damage to our system requires smart and resilient planning. We simply do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support the idea that a single, centralized, natural gas plant, in a location with known vulnerabilities, is the most resilient choice. The IResP seeks to offer more choices that maximize benefits and minimize external costs. All of the Alliance’s portfolios assume Entergy follows the Council’s directions to implement a storm hardening plan that is appropriately robust for New Orleans’ distribution system.
Goals for Each Portfolio
• Meets peak energy needs • Ensures reliability • Maintains affordable bills • Complies with Council energy efficiency targets • Manages risk of fuel price spikes of natural gas• Manages risk of carbon, and other pollutant regulations, and costs connected to environmental regulation • Decreases risk of storm damage to critical infrastructure • Protects the city from additional sinking related to groundwater pumping • Reduces externalized costs to New Orleans residents.
Alternative Energy Portfolios:
1. 20% Clean Energy by 2020: This portfolio offers a total of 20% clean energy resources for New Orleans. It retires 102.2 MW of fossil fuel fired generation in 2018 including ENO’s coal power contract along with oil and legacy gas plants. Renewables like solar and wind are part of the portfolios, with solar owned by both residents and the utility, and wind power purchased from outside New Orleans. Energy efficiency programs and demand side management programs are also incorporated to reduce power demand. Combined Head and Power installations are also a part of this plan.
2. Balanced Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): This portfolio focuses on balancing existing co-generation resources that are within 20 miles of New Orleans with low-cost wind generation. These purchases outside the Entergy system allow for flexibility for future adoption of clean energy as renewables and energy storage become ever more mature. Energy efficiency and demand response also play a role in reducing overall need for energy. This portfolio, like the other two, includes utility-side efficiency through transmission and distribution optimization.
3. Distributed Generation: Distributed energy resources (solar power, wind power, etc.) have become increasingly available. As the cost to install these technologies decreases, this portfolio uses rooftop and large solar plants, Combined Heat and Power from area hospitals, and other major city infrastructure locations, as well as micro-grids to respond to storm islanding concerns are included. This strategy borrows from lessons learned from other cities that are responding successfully to intensifying storms. In this scenario, capacity resource acquisition is part of a coordinated effort with the city and private entities to build a more resilient New Orleans through robust distributed generation and energy efficiency.