PSC decision paves way for $740 million energy plant

Staff Report

Plans for a $740 million renewable energy plant south of Plaquemine moved into high gear last week when the Louisiana Public Service Commission approved a measure that will increase competition among energy providers.

The 1803 Agreement the commissioners approved last week will put the wheels in motion for Princeton, New Jersey-based Kindle Energy to locate in Iberville Parish.

Kindle has an option on 50 acres of privately owned property where it plans to build a plant along River Road between SNF Flopam and Shintech, according to Hank Grace, Director of Economic Development for the Iberville Chamber of Commerce.

The Kindle Energy-Magnolia Power LLC Project will create between 500 and 600 construction jobs and provide between 20 and 25 permanent jobs.

Anticipated startup date is 2025.

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso also played a key role in the discussions, Grace said.

“Once Mitchell talked with them, that was the selling point for them,” he said. “He really wanted this project badly in Iberville, and he was going to make sure it was going to happen.

“It’s a great project,” Grace said. “We’re very excited that we can get this type of project into Iberville when Kindle could’ve gone just about anywhere it wanted.”

The $1.5 billion plan the PSC approved last week will allow cooperatives to buy power from out-of-state utility companies.  

The 700-megawatt advanced class combined cycle will serve Louisiana customers under a stable long-term contract. The facility will be capable of using 50 percent hydrogen for fuel on day one, according to Kindle.

The plant will utilize the latest natural gas turbine technology.

Kindle also manages and operates nearly 6.5 GigaWatts of generation located in Texas, Ohio and Indiana, capable of powering approximately 5.2 million homes.

Talks between the parish and Kindle began more than two years ago.

“We’ve had many meetings with them, but things had slowed down for a while during the early phase of pandemic, and we didn’t hear much from them during that period of time,” he said. “Once we had a handle on COVID, Kindle came back, and they were ready to proceed.”

The 1803 Agreement involved five energy cooperatives whose contracts were up for renewal this year. The agreement moved past the same portfolio, and now moves toward cheaper sources.

The portfolio of energy sources includes hydrogen, solar and natural gas.

Those plants will give off less emission and utilize state of the art technology, Grace said.

“We were impressed with their presentation in regard to the type of power plant they want to use, and their plan to use the latest technology out there,” he said.

The project will also help the parish diversify its economic portfolio, Grace said.

“It’s something entirely new for Iberville Parish,” he said. “In no way is that a knock at the chemical industry. Where would be without the chemical industry in Iberville Parish?”

A permit hearing will be the next step for the project.

Grace said he feels confident that the PSC approval on the project will help Iberville cross the permit hurdle.

The parish will now enter talks with Kindle on industrial tax exemptions.

Those talks will begin when Louisiana Economic Development (LED) moves forward, Grace said.

“Now that the PSC has blessed the project, I’m sure LED will reach out to them,” he said.