Entergy Texas seeking grants to offset $79.5M Port Arthur project, create “true public-private partnership”

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Entergy Texas announced it is aggressively pursuing U.S. government grant funding for an infrastructure and electrical grid hardening project in Port Arthur.

If secured, these funds would directly offset the cost of the $79.5 million project and help the company better serve its almost half a million customers across Southeast Texas.

“Modernizing our electrical grid and enhancing grid flexibility are essential components of building a more resilient power system,” said Eliecer Viamontes, president and CEO of Entergy Texas. “This generational funding opportunity will help strengthen our communities while minimizing the impacts on our customers’ monthly energy bills.”

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Entergy Texas’ project submitted for consideration by the U.S. government calls for hardening a total of 900 transmission structures and undergrounding 57 distribution structures and associated spans.

These proposed infrastructure improvements would bolster the grid’s reliability during extreme weather events, directly benefitting approximately 7,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers within disadvantaged communities of Port Arthur.

The planned hardening, undergrounding and battery installation activities would increase the robustness of Port Arthur’s local grid by improving circuit reliability during extreme weather and facilitating more rapid restoration of the system if outages occur.

Mayor Thurman Bartie said he supports Entergy Texas’ quest for grant funding.

“The possibility of increased resiliency of electric power delivery is paramount to enhancing the quality of life in Port Arthur,” he said. “Consideration and subsequent awarding of the requested grant will be an investment in a community striving to overcome adversity and financial challenges.”

Federal guidelines require that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain government investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized and underserved.

Entergy Texas intentionally selected the proposed Pear Ridge-Kolbs-Lakeview project site because of the potential to build resilience and reduce the energy burden in a community where more than 90 percent of residents are defined as “disadvantaged” on multiple levels under federal guidelines.

Port Arthur City Manager Ron Burton said the project serves as a stimulus that will spark tremendous economic growth.

“It’s a great opportunity for a true public-private partnership to achieve a robust energy infrastructure,” he said.

Entergy Texas recently received a letter of encouragement from the federal government to proceed with full applications for the first round of funding.

The funding opportunities are made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience and Innovative Partnerships program. The agency is expected to announce final awards by this fall. Winning submissions receive government funding for half of the project’s cost.