Montz power plant’s $1 billion expansion

Entergy Louisiana is set to build a $1 billion generating unit at the “Little Gypsy” power plant in Montz, a project that will create 500 construction jobs in the short term, 35 plant jobs in the long term – and save customers a staggering $4 billion in monthly billings over the next 30 years, company officials say.

The 530-megawatt generating unit will use petroleum coke, reducing the company’s reliance on natural gas, prices for which have soared in the last decade.

Once online, the unit will reduce costs for Entergy and, in turn, residential and commercial billings.

Construction and maintenance of the new unit will create up to 600 jobs, according to an economic analysis done by expert Loren Scott.

The project will also generate a total of $412.7 million in new business sales combined with an additional $133.3 million in new household earnings for Louisiana residents, Scott said. That’s how many additional businesses and homes the generator will accommodate.

Entergy Louisiana President and CEO Renae Conley made the announcement in a press conference April 4 at the Gypsy Plant explaining the significance this project will have on all Louisiana Entergy customers.

“For decades natural gas was very cheap and as you all know prices have shot up,” Conley said. “Our objective here is to reduce our exposure to natural gas and that’s what this plan does.”

Petroleum coke, a byproduct of the oil refining process, is about 75-90 percent cheaper than natural gas and is common along the Louisiana coast, according to Entergy officials.

The Shaw Group, a global leader in the private and public sector in technology, construction and maintenance, have been selected by Entergy to head the project, scheduled for completion by 2012.

Jim Bernhard, Chairman and CEO of the Shaw Group, was on hand to discuss the exciting new opportunities the plant will bring to Louisiana workers.

“We’re going to create a lot of new jobs here and we’re going to hire local first,” Bernhard said. “What we can do in Louisiana we will do with Louisiana people because Shaw has always been Louisiana proud.”

While adding nearly 500 new jobs as part of the site construction, local businesses will also have the chance to take part of the economic boon by providing support services to the power plant in the areas of maintenance, riverside operations, lubricants, parts supply, machine shops and other similar services, Entergy officials said.

The site in Montz was chosen due to its proximity to the Mississippi River allowing for easy transfer of pet coke, as well as the plant’s ample space for fuel storage.

The plant, although located in St. Charles parish, will serve to reduce the cost of Entergy customers throughout Louisiana by as much as $4 billion over the next 30 years for the nearly one million customers Entergy Louisiana serves, according to company representative Chanel Lagarde.

“We run the least expensive units all the time,” Lagarde told the Herald-Guide. “Waterford III and the new one are expected to be running at least 95 percent of the time.”

The energy created at each plant can be transferred to other plants and customers throughout Louisiana, meaning that a decrease in price anywhere in the energy pipeline serves to benefit all Entergy customers in the state, Lagarde said.

Louisiana Economic Secretary Michael J. Olivier fells the project not only is good for the state, but also carries a message that will be heard globally.

“This will send a message to the rest of the world that Louisiana is world-class competitors,” he said.

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