After more than seven hours of testimony from New Orleans residents, business owners and Entergy executives, the New Orleans City Council utilities committee moved forward a resolution to approve a new gas-fired power plant in New Orleans East.
The new Entergy plant would be built on the site where the old Michoud power facility sits dark now. Company officials say since that plant was decommissioned, the city hasn’t been able to generate any of its own power, and instead relies on power transmission from plants miles away. Entergy says building a new plant will protect the city from potential blackouts as energy demand grows, and provide reliable power during tropical storms and hurricanes. That’s why council member Jason Rogers Williams said he supports the plan.
"We have to prepare ourselves to be able to rebuild, power back up and recover after such a weather event that we know will come," he said before the vote.
But over the last two years the proposed plant has faced intense opposition from many New Orleans East residents who worry about pollution, and some experts who say it isn’t necessary and will drive up energy bills. New Orleans East Resident Minh Nguyen was among dozens who made their case.
"We fought for our existence after Hurricane Katrina — we fought the landfill. We’re going to fight this as well," he told council members.
Entergy customers would bear the cost of the new plant in rate hikes. Entergy puts the price tag around $200 million. Opponents also point out the facility would be located in a flood hazard zone.
The full council plans to vote a final decision at its March 8 meeting.
For transparency we must note that Entergy is a financial supporter of WWNO.