DE SOTO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Cleco has announced plans to help bring one of the largest solar facilities in Louisiana to De Soto Parish through a partnership with a New York-based energy investment group that has agreed to build the plant on the site of the recently closed Dolet Hills lignite-fired power plant in Mansfield.
Cleco Power and D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments on Wednesday announced a long-term renewable energy agreement to build a solar farm that will bring jobs to DeSoto Parish and provide power to around 45,000 homes. The project is set to begin in the first quarter of 2023 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.
The Dolet Hills Solar Project includes a 240 MWac facility to be constructed at the recently closed coal plant, which was originally set to close in 2026 but closed on Dec. 31, 2021 after all of its employees were laid off.
MWac is megawatts (MW) of solar energy, a measurement of solar production capacity.
“This solar project is another step forward in Cleco’s journey to becoming Louisiana’s leading clean energy company,” Cleco President and CEO Bill Fonteno said in a statement announcing the partnership. “This project continues our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint while affordably and reliably serving our customers.”
DESRI Chief Development Officer Hy Martin says the $250 million project is expected to deliver community benefits, including the creation of local construction jobs and tax revenue for the parish.
“Alongside our partners at Cleco, the project will provide local economic benefits to DeSoto Parish and the surrounding communities for years to come. In addition, the project will replace lignite-fired electricity with renewable power sited on reclaimed mining lands.”
While Dolet Hills Solar is the first power purchase agreement between the companies, DESRI’s portfolio in Louisiana will now total nearly 700MWac in construction and contracted clean power projects. That includes a partnership with SWEPCO announced in February to build the first utility-scale solar farm in Caddo Parish.
Cleco Power says it uses multiple generating sources and multiple fuels to serve approximately 291,000 customers in 24 of Louisiana’s parishes through its retail business and supplies wholesale power in Louisiana and Mississippi. Parishes served include Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Catahoula, DeSoto, Evangeline, Grant, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Vernon and Washington.