Our Power Complex

SWBNO Power Complex
The Bedrock of New Orleans' Water Future

You know the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) as a water, wastewater, and drainage utility. But, you might not know that behind the scenes, we're also our own power utility.

Because New Orleans is flat, water does not flow through pipes or canals on its own. Our drinking water, wastewater, and drainage systems rely on large pumps, and those pumps need electricity. To complicate matters, many of our pumps are over a century old. They use a special form of electricity that Entergy does not produce – so we have had to do it ourselves.

SWBNO creates most of this electricity with steam and combustion turbine generators built between 1915 and 2012. But running the city's water, wastewater, and drainage systems on 100-year-old power equipment is not sustainable. We completed a Power Master Plan in 2020 to identify the best path forward. We knew the answer needed to be cost-effective – in recognition of many needs – and reliable – in recognition of the realities of our topography and climate.

The West Power Complex is that answer. This facility is the future home of:

  • A dedicated substation to draw power directly from Entergy's transmission grid,
  • Three static frequency changers (SFCs) to convert modern electricity to the type of power our older pumps can use, and
  • Modern turbine generators to produce reliable, efficient backup power on-site.

Connecting directly to Entergy's transmission grid will provide a more economical and cleaner power source for everyday use. The modern turbine generators will provide reliable backup power if needed.

The development, design, and construction of the West Power Complex is a large, two-phased capital program. Phase 1 will allow for the basic use of grid power from Entergy and add a new turbine generator to our in-house fleet. Full build-out in Phase 2 will include a new state-of-the-art operations center and final system configuration.

At present, we're over halfway through the design for Phase 1, and our teams are developing and refining  cost estimates and schedule projections to reflect the program's needs and current market conditions.

The costs associated with the West Power Complex fall into three categories:

  1. Professional services, including the design of the new system and construction management.
  2. Equipment purchases, including Turbine 7, frequency changers, transformers, medium voltage cable, electrical switchgear, and auxiliary electrical equipment.
  3. Integration components to bring the pieces together – such as site preparation, an overhead utility rack, equipment foundations, electrical duct banks, mechanical and electrical equipment installation, the operations center building, and final configuration components. 

Phase 1
Basic use of Entergy grid power and add a new turbine to our in-house fleet.

  • Anticipated completion: late 2024
  • Anticipated cost: around $255 million

SWBNO has identified funding sources for the entirety of Phase 1. However, the final cost and completion date will depend on supply chain availability, manufacturing timeframes, and actual construction days based on weather and other factors.

Phase 2
Full build-out with a new state-of-the-art operations center and final system configuration.

  • Anticipated completion: Late 2025 (funding dependent)
  • Anticipated cost: An additional $50 million
    • This cost estimate does not include Turbines 8 and 9 at this time

We look forward to beginning construction work in December 2022. Stay tuned for updates as this critical infrastructure resilience and reliability project continues.

Validation error occured. Please enter the fields and submit it again.
Thank You ! Your email has been delivered.