The emergence of new technologies and data analytics is bringing promising new opportunities beyond traditional generating equipment, substations, poles and wires, vehicles, and tools. Our customers expect far more from us than keeping their lights on. In fact, reliable power at the flip of a switch is just the beginning of our relationship with customers. Instead of simply providing an input — electricity or gas service — to a customer’s home or business, we’re working to understand the outcomes they need and desire in their personal lives and in their manufacturing plants and retail businesses. By building on our interactions and understanding the outcomes customers need and desire from their power consumption, we are developing new customer solutions that match their outcomes — and make their lives better.
In 2019 we formed KeyString Labs, an employee-led innovation center that engages with our stakeholders to understand their expectations and develop scalable and innovative customer solutions that we can pilot and ultimately deploy across our service area.
For example, we’ve developed a customer-sited back-up generation solution for commercial and small industrial customers called Power Through. The generators will be owned by Entergy and would allow those businesses to operate as usual during widespread outages. Retail businesses would be able to provide services to the general public during significant weather events. In other times, Entergy could deploy the resource for the benefit of all our customers, resulting in a win-win solution. It provides an economic alternative to businesses to remain open when our communities need them most, and it provides us, the utility, an added resource when the broader system needs it.
We commissioned our first 1 MW generator at a grocery store in Texas. The resource is available to the grocery store in the event it loses power, and it’s available to the utility at other times, and both parties share the cost, which makes it more economic for everyone. Entergy Texas has already utilized the resource, providing cost-effective and efficient power to the grid.
We have line of sight on additional projects. In December we received approval from the Mississippi Public Service Commission to deploy 20 generators in the state. We are actively working with our regulatory teams to introduce Power Through in all our jurisdictions.
KeyString Labs is also working on beneficial electrification, which allows customers to realize efficiencies and environmental benefits by relying on Entergy grid power instead of fossil fuels. Electrification of marine vessels while in port is one example of a carbon-reduction strategy that yields a business opportunity for Entergy. The initiative allows marine vessels to plug into the land-based electrical power grid while at berth. Today, marine vessels at berth typically rely on diesel auxiliary engines to generate electrical power for on-board services and equipment, including communication, lighting, and ventilation. The use of diesel auxiliary engines results in significant air emissions. The use of auxiliary engines also creates vibration / noise pollution in port areas, while also causing wear-and-tear on ship-side equipment. Converting marine vessels to electrical power while at berth significantly reduces localized emissions and potentially lowers operating costs for vessel owners. We partnered with our customers to study the economic and environmental potential for shore power, as well as to identify and address potential barriers for implementation. Per vessel, shore power is expected to result in significant reductions of net emissions, estimated at as much as:
- 98% reduction in NOx,
- 48% reduction in SOx, and
- 42% reduction in CO2.
Our first shore-power installation went into service in early 2020. We believe we have more opportunities for shore-power projects as we have 37 ports in our service area, seven of which are among the 20 largest in the United States.
Other projects currently in various stages of development include:
- Shared solar power solution that makes clean-energy participation easy
- Residential rooftop solar program
- Beneficial electrification of industrial and commercial operations
- Targeted microgrid for lowest reasonable cost solution
- Energy-efficiency service
- Centralized solution for demand-side management offerings