BATON ROUGE, La. (Office of the Governor) - On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards highlighted the groundbreaking by Entergy Louisiana LLC for a 994-megawatt electricity generation plant in Westlake, near Lake Charles, where an industrial renaissance is increasing demand for electricity.
Approximately $55 billion in new industrial construction projects has been launched in Southwest Louisiana since 2012, with billions more in capital investment planned over the next decade.
Representing the State of Louisiana at the groundbreaking ceremony, LED Secretary Don Pierson joined Entergy Corporation Chairman and CEO Leo Denault, Entergy Louisiana President and CEO Phillip May and other state and local officials at the construction site, located on Houston River Road near Entergy’s existing Nelson power plants and the $11 billion Sasol chemical complex that’s approaching completion.
For the new combined-cycle, natural gas-fired Lake Charles Power Plant, Entergy Louisiana will make an $872 million capital investment in a project that mirrors the St. Charles Power Plant that began construction west of New Orleans a year ago. The Louisiana Public Service Commission approved the Lake Charles project in June 2017. Though the St. Charles and Lake Charles power plants initially will result in slight increases to ratepayer bills, each is expected to produce consumer savings of $1.3 billion or more – versus older technology – over the 30-year life cycle of the plants.
In Calcasieu Parish, the Entergy Louisiana project will employ approximately 700 people at the peak of construction. The project will create 31 permanent new direct jobs, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates an additional 97 new indirect jobs will result, for a total of more than 120 permanent new jobs in Southwest Louisiana.
“We are truly blessed by the tremendous amount of new industrial construction and economic activity centered around Lake Charles,” Gov. Edwards said. “In addition to billions in private-sector investment, we are embarking on several hundred million dollars of public investment in road and port projects. Our commitment to improving our infrastructure is critical and serves as one of the primary reasons investors are flocking to Louisiana. We’re proud to support Entergy in this vitally important project to produce cleaner, more efficient power for residential and commercial ratepayers in Louisiana.”
Compared with older-generation, natural gas-fired plants, the new Lake Charles Power Plant will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 40 percent. The more efficient design of the plant will reduce fuel costs significantly, leading to the long-term savings for ratepayers.
“The Lake Charles Power Station is another element of our plan to ensure there is an abundant supply of clean, affordable, safe and reliable energy available to meet the needs of our current customers as well as keep pace with Louisiana’s expanding economy,” Entergy Louisiana’s May said. “The Lake Charles area is one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation, thanks to the billions being invested in new and expanded facilities. Many groups and individuals, including the Louisiana Public Service Commission and the civic and community leaders of Calcasieu Parish, have helped us make this project not just part of a plan, but a reality. Our pledge to them is to continue following the blueprint to create a bright future for Louisiana.”
Buoyed by major investment and job gains in ethylene, methanol, liquefied natural gas and aerospace projects, the Lake Charles metro area has seen its employment grow by 5,000 jobs in the past year and more than 23,000 jobs in the past decade to record employment of 117,500. Included within that trend is 77 consecutive months of year-over-year job gains, according to Louisiana Workforce Commission records.
“Entergy’s investment in Southwest Louisiana will serve the incredible, multibillion-dollar economic development investments we’ve welcomed to this region, and demonstrates Entergy’s commitment to being the utility partner that allows us to maintain and build on our momentum,” LED’s Pierson said. “Our industrial electricity rates are among the lowest in the nation. By building this highly efficient, combined-cycle plant, Entergy brings greater reliability and capacity to the market. That action sends a strong signal to current and potential new investors that Louisiana and this region are indeed prepared to serve the demand of today’s industrial base, and also ready to compete for the next generation of manufacturing projects.”
By 2020, when the new Lake Charles Power Plant begins operating, the Southwest Louisiana region will surpass 300,000 in population for the first time, with metro Lake Charles achieving record population of more than 200,000 people. Construction of the power plant is expected to produce $1 billion in new business sales, with an accompanying $282.9 million expected in new household earnings, according to an economic impact study by Louisiana economist Loren Scott.
“Entergy Louisiana continues to demonstrate its commitment to the region through investments and its economic development efforts,” said President and CEO George Swift of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “This project is a continuation of the long, positive relationship between the residents of Calcasieu Parish and Entergy Louisiana. We look forward to strengthening that relationship as well as to the opportunities this project will provide our local workforce.”