The Entergy Corporation is a duel electric power production and distribution company, with its primary electrical distribution and service area covering the Gulf Coast region. This includes most of Louisiana, central and eastern Arkansas, western Mississippi, and the southeast corner of Texas. Its non-utility division, which often generates power for other electrical service providers, has over 40 power plants located throughout the United States.
These plants, which have a combined capacity of 30,000 MW, run on a variety of fuels and technologies, including natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear, and hydroelectric power. The nuclear division, Entergy Nuclear, alone operates a total of 10 plants, including the Indian Point Energy Center in New York, Arkansas Nuclear One, in Arkansas, and the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vermont. Entergy also operates the hydroelectric dams that form Lakes Catherine and Hamilton along the Ouachita River in Arkansas.
Founded in 1949 as Middle South Utilities and headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, the company was eventually renamed Entergy when it merged with Gulf States Utilities in 1989. After focusing its initial efforts on acquiring several former General Electric power companies, Entergy began to expand on its predecessors’ already existing projects while developing power plants of its own. Today it has nearly 15,000 employees and is the second largest operator of nuclear power stations in the United States, with only the Exelon Corporation having more nuclear units in service. Its utility branch serves over 2.7 million customers throughout the South, carrying over 23,000 megawatts of electricity over 15,500 miles of interconnected power lines.
With revenue of $13.1 billion in 2008 and average annual receipts of over $10 billion, Entergy is the only utility company in the U.S. to make the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for nine straight years. In recognition of its transparency and business practices, Forbes named Entergy to its list of ‘America’s Most Trustworthy Companies’ in 2008. It is estimated to possess over $36 billion in assets. Entergy is also one of the corporate sponsors of New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo and Audubon Nature Institute.
Entergy has faced some recent setbacks, however. Hurricane Katrina forced staff at the company’s headquarters to move from New Orleans to cities in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas in 2005, though some employees were able to return by 2006. In 2010 the Vermont State Senate voted to prevent a renewal of Entergy’s license to operate the Vermont Yankee plant.
In addition to these difficulties, some of Entergy’s plants may have exposed its workers to a toxic substance: asbestos. This fibrous mineral was used in many power plants built in the mid-20th century as an insulator, helping protect buildings, generators, boilers, and other machinery from the extreme temperatures involved in large-scale power generation. While it was effective for this purpose, it also posed a severe health risk for the workers who came in contact with it in the power plants.