Entergy Arkansas, the state’s largest electric utility, peered deeper into a renewable energy future, announcing on Thursday that it’s requesting proposals for 1,000 megawatts of new solar and wind generation.
The investor-owned utility, which already has the state’s largest operational solar power stations and is building more, said it is looking for “emissions-free renewables that can provide cost-effective energy supply, capacity, fuel diversity, and other benefits to its customers.”
The 1,000 megawatts is about triple the 281 megawatts Entergy Arkansas produces now at three solar fields.
Kurt Castleberry, director of resource planning, told Arkansas Business that diverse and clean generation is a great benefit to Entergy Arkansas’ 728,000 Arkansas customers. “The economic solar and wind resources that we anticipate acquiring from this 2022 renewable RFP will further increase the diversity of fuel sources and technologies in our generation portfolio.”
The goal, as always, he said, is to add “low-cost, reliable and clean power” and he called it “certainly exciting to be able to add economic wind and solar resources to our generation mix.”
He predicted “exciting proposals” ahead. The lion’s share of Entergy Arkansas’ power comes from nuclear sources, including Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville.
Entergy Arkansas, a subsidiary of Entergy Corp. of New Orleans, specified several possible means of getting the new renewable power, including self-build proposals, power-purchase agreements with solar developers, and deals under which the generation centers would be built and then transferred to Entergy. Solar arrays must be within Entergy Arkansas’ service territory, and wind farms require sites in the footprint of either of the regional transmission organizations with headquarters in Little Rock: the Midcontinent Independent System Operator and Southwest Power Pool.
Entergy’s current 281 solar megawatts, enough to power 45,000 homes, comes from 81-megawatt Stuttgart Solar in Almyra (Arkansas County), 100-megawatt Chicot Solar in Lake Village, and its latest resource, Searcy Solar, a 100-megawatt array attached to 30 megawatts of battery storage.
The Searcy field came online in late 2021; supply-chain issues and a shortage of photovoltaic panels have stalled two other Entergy solar projects, one in West Memphis and another near Forrest City. Entergy serves homes and businesses in 63 of Arkansas’ 75 counties, covering nearly 41,000 square miles.
The utility has carbon-free generation from hydroelectric facilities at Carpenter and Remmel dams, and the two nuclear units in Russellville are a huge asset. Nuclear energy supplies about 70% of Entergy Arkansas customers’ power, followed by hydropower at 16%. The remaining 14%, the company said, comes from coal, natural gas and solar sources.