Pointe Coupee Electric announces move to new wholesale electrical provider

Staff Report

A move to a new wholesale electrical provider in two years will usher in a new phase of modernization for Pointe Coupee Electric, which serves portions of Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee parishes.

PCE will enter into a new wholesale power supply agreement with NextEra Energy, a Fortune 500 company, starting in April 2025, said Jimmy Ewing, Pointe Coupee Electric president.

Ewing made the announcement during PCE’s 84th annual membership meeting Jan. 25 at the William H. Scott Civic Center in New Roads.

Pointe Coupee Electric General Manager Myron Lambert discusses the power supply agreement between the local power co-op and NextEra that will begin in April at the annual PCE membership meeting. At left is PCE Vice President George LaCour Jr.

“The last time I got up here, the theme was that change is coming,” Ewing said. “This year, there’s no doubt about it.”

The transition will move PCE away from the full requirement contract with CLECO-Cajun, from which PCE buys all its power.

In addition to the NextEra wholesale contract, PCE has contracted with Mondu Solar, a NextEra subsidiary, to add solar power to its power resources. 

Lambert said the solar resource provides a longer-term source of power for the cooperative that provides capacity attributes that have been asserted by the MISO market and under consideration by the state Public Service Commission to be needed locally.

It will mark a move to market-based power costs that will allow its new provider to access a diverse range of power sources to meet the rapidly changing energy environment, General Manager Myron Lambert said.

“They’re going to go out and procure low-cost, reliable power that’s available on our behalf, and we’re going to pay them to do that,” he said. 

Lambert said he’s not certain about the exact amount of rate reduction, but he said it will guarantee that PCE will stay at a market-based price with competitive rates.

“It’s going to be consistent across the board and we will have the best available pricing.

“Relate that today with 16 utilities that are regulated by Public Service Commission, ranking No. 1 as the highest, and that was Entergy, and CLECO number two,” Lambert said.

Out of Louisiana’s 16 utility providers, PCE was the 10th cheapest in 2022.

The discussion also focused on other improvements targeted to be completed by 2025, which will further enhance communication with customers. 

It will allow PCE to better identify and communicate outages with customers, map the system and show outage areas online.

“This will allow us to manage outages more efficiently,” Lambert said.  “Better data off the system will make the co-op more resilient, decrease outages and improve communication with customers.”

“It will ultimately help us deliver world-class customer service,” he said.

The new system is not the only change on the horizon.

PCE is working with customers as they navigate the push for cleaner and greener.

One such project is working with the Pointe Coupee Parish school system on a project that would allow for a number of electric buses in the parish

PCE is ready for the next step, Lambert said.

“The buzz you hear is on what infrastructure is needed to support electric vehicles, having the ability to do V2G (vehicle to grid),” he said.

“Right now, if you have a solar panel in your home and you make more power than you consume, you put that electricity on the grid. The concept with V2G is that it creates the possibility to allow electrical vehicles to be charged during off-peak hours and if they’ll be able to, dispatch it to the grid during on-peak time when a bus is just sitting there. Or in case of outages, you could isolate the system potentially and dispatch the power.”

PCE serves portions of Pointe Coupee, Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes.