Floating power station proposed off Louisiana coast

March 13, 2024

As part of its efforts to fortify its infrastructure against extreme weather, one national energy company is seeking approval for a 112 megawatt natural gas power plant to be built on a barge off the Louisiana coast.

Entergy Louisiana has filed a request with the Louisiana Public Service Commission for approval of the $411 million facility that would support the power grid and local economy, the company said.

Floating power stations, also known as power barges, are not a new invention. Although other floating facilities exist in the U.S., none are built on mobile barges and none are capable of providing the same utility-scale power Entergy is proposing, according to a U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) spokesperson.

The floating Bayou Power Station would be located off the shore of Leeville, Louisiana, where it can connect to the electrical grid through a substation. Through the substation, power from the barge would be distributed to provide electricity to the surrounding region, which includes infrastructure for the oil and gas industry, a robust fishing industry and more than 97,000 people in Lafourche Parish.

“Our customers in areas like Grand Isle, Golden Meadow and Port Fourchon play an important role in our state’s tourism and seafood industries and energy sector, and the Bayou Power Station is a unique solution to meeting their power needs into the future,” Entergy Louisiana president and CEO Phillip May said.

In Louisiana, extreme weather typically means storm surges and high winds that come with hurricane season. In 2023, the company completed an elevated substation raised 20 feet above ground level after a previous substation was damaged during Hurricane Ida in 2021.

Entergy has also built power lines for transmission and distribution of electricity to hold up against high winds. In 2022, the company spent $86 million upgrading 7 miles of transmission lines that bring high voltage electricity to substations to withstand 150 mph winds. Entergy also buried 8 more miles of distribution lines that bring lower-voltage electricity from substations to homes and businesses.

“Building a more resilient power grid is a year-round effort that we’ve been focused on for decades,” a spokesperson for Entergy told Government Market News in an email. “The need today is for accelerated implementation of such enhancements to reduce risk to our customers and communities.”

It is not only Entergy and other energy companies looking to fortify the grid against storms. The U.S. Department of Energy is also behind the effort with $562 million in grant funding announced in January for grid resilience projects. Grant applications close April 17, 2024. Another DOE program is giving out $70 million for projects that enhance electric grid security from various threats including extreme weather.

The Bayou Power Station would be connected on a microgrid with nearby communities, and it would be capable of helping restart the power grid in the case of a blackout — a process known as black-start. Located near Port Fourchon, a busy oil and gas hub in the petroleum-rich Gulf Coast, the power station will also help ensure critical infrastructure at the port has reliable power.

“Whether you’re located in a big city, small town or along the coast, Entergy Louisiana is committed to providing our customers with affordable and reliable power,” May said.

Entergy Louisiana has submitted the plan to the state’s energy regulator. The company said it does not know when construction or operation of the Bayou Power Station will begin.

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Photo credit: Entergy

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