Cleco exploring solar power

by Mary Tutwiler

With an oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on April 20, covering nearly 2,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coastlines, it is an auspicious time for the Central Louisiana Electric Co. Inc. to announce that they are exploring solar energy.

"There are so many renewables -- solar, wind and others," Cleco President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Madison told the Alexandria Town Talk. "Somebody needs to test these things, and that's what we're doing. One of the things I want to do at Cleco is I want to get out ahead of the market. Let's get out and figure out what works in Louisiana."

Cleco is testing out different kinds of solar panels to see which kinds work best in Louisiana's weather. The company is also looking at alternative energy sources such as wind, placing underwater generators into river currents and geothermal.

"Personally, I believe the utility industry is at a crossroads," Madison told the Town Talk. "I think the utility industry needs to embrace this. Cleco is."