Solar farm planned at closed Louisiana coal power plant site
PINEVILLE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana utility and a New York-based renewable energy company say a big solar farm will be built near a coal-fired Louisiana plant that closed last year.
Cleco Power and D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments LLC have a long-term agreement under which Shaw Renewable will build a 240-megawatt solar installation and Cleco will buy power from it, according to a news release.
Cleco said in federal filings that if the Louisiana Public Service Commission approves the Dolet Hills Solar Project, it hopes the $250 million solar farm will provide power by 2025, The Advocate reported.
It will use the power plant’s grid connection, a Cleco spokesperson said.
“This solar project is another step forward in Cleco’s journey to becoming Louisiana’s leading clean energy company,” Bill Fontenot, president and CEO of Cleco Corporate Holdings in Pineville, said in the news release. “This project continues our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint while affordably and reliably serving our customers.”
About 55% of Cleco’s power in 2021 came from natural gas and less than 2% from renewable sources, according to the newspaper.
In April, the company said $9 million in federal money will cover three-quarters of the cost of an engineering design study for a proposed $900 million carbon capture and storage project.
The solar project will create enough power for about 45,000 homes, the news release said.
Shaw now has nearly 700 megawatts in construction and contracted clean power projects in Louisiana, the statement said.
In February, Shaw announced an agreement with Southwestern Electric Power Co. to buy power from a 72.5 megawatt Caddo Parish solar farm expected to come online in late 2024.
The 650-megawatt lignite plant in Mansfield was one of Louisiana’s last coal plants, The Advocate reported last year. It was built in 1986, powered by coal from a nearby mine, and was jointly owned by Pineville-based Cleco Power and SWEPCO.
Cleco Power serves 291,000 customers in 24 parishes. It owns nine power plants able to put out 3,035 megawatts, 1,335 miles of transmission lines and 12,152 miles of distribution lines.
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