It doesn’t seem all that long ago when Entergy had grand plans for nuclear power. But a press release last week shows how much things have changed: The company is now all-in on renewable energy like solar power.
Entergy’s Mississippi subsidiary announced that it’s making its largest-ever commitment to renewable resources. It will replace aging plants that use natural gas to produce electricity with 1,000 megawatts of energy from renewable sources over the next five years.
The most surprising element of this news is that while the company currently gets 1% of its energy from renewables, that figure will rise to 17% in three years and 33% in five. That would be a huge switch away from the company’s current reliance on natural gas for the majority of its electricity production.
At that rate, Entergy says it would be the fastest-growing renewable energy utility in Mississippi — perhaps not a high measure of green success — and one of the fastest-growing in the country, which is much more impressive.
Equally impressive, and a bit surprising, is the words of support from state leaders like Gov. Tate Reeves and all three elected members of the Public Service Commission.
Neither the company nor its political advocates are a bunch of tree-huggers. Instead, they’re framing Entergy’s plans as an important economic development tool.
Entergy is calling its plans the EDGE, for Economic Development with Green Energy, and believes it will help the state recruit industries while giving its electricity customers a hedge against rising natural gas prices.
The governor said the company’s plans will help Mississippi become energy independent, and will put the state in a better position to recruit jobs and economic growth.
Entergy Mississippi president and CEO Haley Fisackerly said renewable power is as important to large companies as a state’s tax and incentive structure, site availability and labor force.
“Adding more renewable energy will put Mississippi communities in a better position for industrial recruitment, while also diversifying our power generation portfolio at a time of rising natural gas prices,” he added. “Along with the nuclear power provided by Grand Gulf, this would give our customers diverse, sustainable, reliable, clean and affordable power for years to come.”
Critics of renewable energy question its ability to provide consistent electricity, and whether it’s wise to move away rapidly from the fossil fuels that have proven so reliable for decades.
They have a point. Sometimes it’s cloudy, and sometimes the wind doesn’t blow. This puts limits on solar energy and wind power.
Entergy Mississippi’s plans, however, are a clear bet that continuing technological improvements and a wider acceptance of renewable energy will overcome any such barriers. We’ll know who’s right in five years, when one-third of the company’s electricity is coming from renewable sources.
— Jack Ryan, Enterprise-Journal