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Solar farm planned at closed site of Louisiana coal-fired power plant

A Louisiana utility and a New York-based renewable energy company announced that a large solar farm would be built near a Louisiana coal-fired power plant that shut down last year.

Cleco Power and DE Shaw Renewable Investments LLC have a long-term agreement under which Shaw Renewable will build a 240-megawatt solar facility and Cleco will purchase power from it, according to a news release.

Cleco said in federal filings that if the Louisiana Public Service Commission approves the Dolet Hills Solar Project, it hopes the $250 million solar farm will provide electricity by 2025, The lawyer reported.

It will use the power plant’s grid connection, a Cleco spokesperson said.

“This solar project is another step in Cleco’s journey to becoming Louisiana’s leading clean energy company,” Bill Fontenot, president and CEO of Cleco Corporate Holdings in Pineville, said in the press release. “This project continues our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint while serving our customers affordably and reliably.”

About 55% of Cleco’s electricity in 2021 came from natural gas and less than 2% from renewable sources, according to the newspaper.

In April, the company said $9 million in federal funds would cover three-quarters of the cost of an engineering design study for a proposed $900 million. carbon capture and storage project.

The solar project will create enough electricity for around 45,000 homes, according to the press release.

Shaw now has nearly 700 megawatts under construction and has contracted clean energy projects in Louisiana, according to the release.

In February, Shaw announced an agreement with Southwestern Electric Power Co. to purchase power from a 72.5 megawatt Caddo Parish solar farm that is expected to come online in late 2024.

The 650-megawatt lignite plant in Mansfield was one of Louisiana’s last coal-fired plants, The Advocate reported last year. It was built in 1986, powered by coal from a nearby mine, and was jointly owned by Pineville-based Cleco Power and SWEPCO.

Cleco Power serves 291,000 customers in 24 parishes. It has nine power plants capable of producing 3,035 megawatts, 1,335 miles of transmission lines and 12,152 miles of distribution lines.