Luisiana – pv magazine Latin America

The rate of solar power in the so-called “pelican state” is paltry at best, though major installations are on the verge of nearly tripling the current rate of 200 MW of installed solar power.

Ranked 38th in the country according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Louisiana has a relatively low electric rate of 14.10 cents per kWh, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), compared to to 11.69 a year ago. However, the state’s per capita energy consumption is the second highest in the country due to the energy-intensive chemical, oil and natural gas industries, as well as having high demand for air conditioning during its hot and humid summers. . Louisiana is the third largest producer of natural gas in the country, according to the EIA, and the second largest consumer of natural gas per capita, after Alaska, with natural gas accounting for 65% of the state’s electricity generation.

Louisiana has lagged behind in the adoption of solar energy, to the point that it only provides 0.0043% of the state’s electricity, or enough to power 20,352 homes, according to the SEIA. However, several large solar projects are currently under construction, such as Ventress Solar, which will be the largest in the state with 345 MW. The Bayou Galion Solar project is also under construction, which will add another 98 MW.

Small-scale, customer-installed solar installations in Louisiana are growing at a slower rate, although they account for a larger share, about three-fifths of the state’s total solar power generation, according to the EIA.

No renewable portfolio standard
Louisiana is one of 13 US states that does not have a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). In 2010, the Louisiana Public Service Commission concluded, following a renewable energy pilot program, that the state did not need an RPS. Fortunately, the state has other policies to encourage renewable energy use and energy efficiency, such as voluntary utility efficiency programs, energy standards for public buildings, net metering, property tax exemptions, and home energy loans. .

net metering
Louisiana allows net metering for small-scale installations up to 25 kW for residential systems and up to 300 kW for commercial and agricultural systems. Total grid-connected consumer net metering capacity is limited to 0.5% of each utility’s monthly retail peak power demand load, and several large utilities in the state have already reached their metering limit net.

In 2019, the rules for distributed generation in Louisiana were modified. Those who had distributed generation installed before December 31, 2019 were protected for 15 years for their current net metering billing. These customers pay the retail rate for the difference between the electricity they buy from the power company and the electricity they feed into the grid. Residents with distributed generation installed after December 31, 2019 are billed through a payment mechanism known as bi-channel billing. Each month, these customers pay the applicable retail rate for the electricity they purchase from the utility and receive full retail value for the electricity they produce and use behind the meter in their home or business. Any excess energy is credited to the customer’s bill at the current “avoided cost” rate.

Starting in 2020, the Louisiana Public Utilities Commission will reduce by two-thirds the fee utility companies have to pay new net-metered customers for excess electricity they put on the grid from their solar panels on the roof.

Home Energy Loan Program
Louisiana’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) offers low-interest loans to improve home energy efficiency and/or install solar panels. Loans are up to a maximum of $12,000, and participants must go through an underwriting process.

Property tax incentives and solar rights
The State of Louisiana exempts solar energy systems from inclusion in property appraisals. The state also enacted a solar rights law (HB 751) in 2010 that prohibits entities from restricting a homeowner from installing solar generating equipment. This can include homeowners’ communities, although some exceptions are historic districts, historic preservation areas, and certain monuments.

Community Solar Power in New Orleans
The City of New Orleans has its own community solar energy program. In collaboration with Madison Energy Investments, a developer and operator of distributed generation assets, the city will build a series of solar farms, which interested residents will purchase and receive a credit on their electric bills for their share of the energy produced. The City of New Orleans has approval rights over the locations to ensure they match the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. The city is also exploring municipally owned sites, such as rooftops and vacant land, to develop the projects. The maximum capacity of the facilities is 2 MW and the projects must have a minimum of three 1 kW subscribers.

emblematic facilities
The LA3 West Baton Rouge Solar Facility, in West Baton Rouge, is currently the largest operating facility in the State. With 74.5 MW, the solar plant produces enough electricity to supply almost 8,000 homes. Developed by DEPCOM, the project came online in 2020 and is currently owned by Helios Infrastructure. Power from the ground-mounted project is sold through a power purchase agreement to Entergy Louisiana.

Louisiana corporate users include Brookfield Properties Retail, Walmart and Abita Brewing, and Brookfield’s 1.3 MW Mall of Louisiana solar project represents one of the largest corporate facilities in the state.

However, these projects will soon be dwarfed by the aforementioned Ventress solar park, which is being built by Lightsource bp and is expected to be operational by 2023. The power it generates will be sold to McDonald’s Corporation and eBay under deals purchase of electricity in the long term. Louisiana-based Ampirical Solutions has been selected as EPC for the project’s substation and switchyard. The project has created approximately 400 construction jobs and will provide an estimated $30 million boost to Pointe Coupee Parish over its lifetime.

“In addition to improving the health and energy security of America’s communities, large-scale solar projects help strengthen local economies. As the owners and operators of the Ventress Solar Farm, we look forward to bringing economic benefits to Pointe Coupee Parish, as well as fostering long-term community partnerships,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas for Lightsource bp.

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