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Planning today for your power tomorrow

Planning today for your power tomorrow

By: Haley Fisackerly - February 10, 2023

FILE - In this April 7, 2015, photograph, Entergy Mississippi President and CEO Haley Fisackerly, right, and Jeff Cheng, vice president for projects and systems at Stion, a solar panel manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg, discuss the utility company's plans to implement the state's first utility-owned solar project with the launch of the first of three solar installations in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File - Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Entergy Mississippi CEO shares thoughts on charging stations, solar plants and powering the future.

At Entergy Mississippi we think a lot about the future. Why? Because we are not only tasked by the State of Mississippi with providing you power today, but also with having plans in place to ensure you have safe, reliable and affordable power years from now. 

Much like turning a large ship at sea, the massive and complex grid infrastructure required to provide you with 24/7 power cannot be turned quickly. So we watch for changes on the horizon to get ready for what’s ahead. A power plant being constructed today is designed to meet customer power needs a decade from now. It takes years of coordination and planning by thousands of people any time we make major enhancements to the grid.  

That is why we are planning in 2023 for things we think will impact our customers in 2033. Two of those are: how will we serve the needs of today’s growing electric vehicle market; and how will we diversify our power generation for a future of potentially more volatile natural gas price  in a global economy? 

Haley Fisackerly

Regardless of what your personal vehicle preference may be right now, most major auto companies have publicly stated their plans to offer more electric vehicles in the future. Some predict that by 2030, as much as half the U.S. car market will be electric vehicles. At Entergy, we must start planning for car charging infrastructure today. If we wait, Mississippians will not be able to consider half of the new vehicles in the future car market because they will only be able to charge those vehicles at home. Furthermore, if Mississippi remains a car charging “desert,” out-of-state EV owners will be unwilling to risk making visits through our state – depriving Mississippians of tourism dollars. 

To learn what kind of impact widespread use of public and home charging systems will have on the power grid, Entergy Mississippi has filed a state plan to pilot a handful of charging station sites in Mississippi now – opening our first off Interstate 55 in Ridgeland in January 2023. We hope to learn how different charging station models, frequency, time-of-day and locations might impact the grid. When the day comes for privately-owned, commercial charging stations at gas stations, shopping centers, city downtowns and other convenient places for Mississippi consumers, Entergy Mississippi will be ready to serve them reliably and cost effectively. 

We are also looking at where affordable power will come from in the future. Entergy Mississippi has long had a diverse, “all of the above” approach to generating power. Like most utilities, we have historically relied on a fleet of natural gas and coal-fired plants to generate the bulk of our electricity. Our customers have also benefitted from the low cost, zero-emission nuclear power generated at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson. 

However, worldwide inflation and international conflicts doubled natural gas prices over the last year and more volatility is expected. Also, recent environmental regulations and transportation disruptions have made burning coal for electric generation unsustainable. These developments have prompted utilities to further explore renewable energy to fill the void in coming years.

With a generation portfolio that is more than 60% natural gas, customer bills rising as a result and few other diversification options available today, Entergy Mississippi has turned to large solar projects as a way to keep costs down for customers – opening our first solar plant in the Mississippi Delta last year. The company will add about 500 megawatts of solar power to its portfolio by 2026 and plans to add another 500 megawatts by 2027. While we recognize that solar energy is not a 24/7 power source, it can complement our existing generation sources and help keep bills affordable.  

There is also an ancillary benefit to this renewable energy diversification: economic development. Many large corporations now require a certain amount of the power serving their facilities to be emission-free. When our state is recruiting large, job-creating economic development projects to Mississippi, officials can now tell these companies that emission-free nuclear and solar power are both available in Entergy-served areas – giving Mississippi another advantage in creating new jobs in the future.  

Whether it’s preparing for a coming storm next week or anticipating the impact of a new technology next decade, Entergy’s 2,500 utility and nuclear employees in Mississippi are always looking ahead. All of us wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2023, and a bright future beyond.

About the Author(s)
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Haley Fisackerly

Haley Fisackerly is the president and chief executive officer of Entergy Mississippi, LLC, an electric utility that serves approximately 449,000 customers in 45 Mississippi counties. He was named to the post in June 2008. Fisackerly, a native of Columbus, Mississippi, holds a degree in business administration from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in public policy administration from George Washington University. He served for several years on the staff of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran prior to joining Entergy at its Washington, D.C. office in 1995.