Entergy official says company is ready for hot month

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 7, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – High natural gas prices notwithstanding, Entergy Louisiana is well-prepared to deal with high energy demand during the dog days of summer.

That is according to a company official who spoke to members of the Ferriday Chamber of Commerce during the chamber’s Monday meeting.

The company spent $65 million in 1999 and 2000 alone to add 2,800 megawatts of generating capacity to its system, said Customer Service Manager Reggie Smith.

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As part of that effort, Entergy has brought 18 older plants back online, including a plant in Monroe, and has upgraded capacity at its existing plants.

&uot;There’s no 100 percent guarantee, … but we’re well-prepared for the summer load,&uot;&160;Smith said.

Still, the price of natural gas – which Entergy uses to generate two-thirds of its power – remains high. Causes include last year’s extreme summer and winter temperatures, which depleted stores of natural gas and drove up prices, Smith said.

&uot;It’s a matter of supply and demand,&uot; he said. Smith noted that in recent years, the price of electricity has gone down about $300 million, but rising natural gas prices have more than offset that decrease.

To help offset those high natural gas prices – and, in turn, keep consumers’ power bills down – Entergy is converting many of its gas-burning plants to plants that burn fuel oil.

It is also relying more on coal and nuclear plants which, along with the purchase of electricity from other sources, make up one-third of the electricity Entergy sells. &uot;Nuclear energy was out of favor at one time, … but it’s back in favor now,&uot;&160;Smith said.

Smith added that he does not know of any plans Entergy has to build another nuclear plant at this time – a venture that would cost more than $2 billion.

&uot;But I&160;think you will see nuclear (energy) become a bigger role in the future,&uot; Smith said.