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Public sounds off about New Orleans East Power plant

23rd October 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Emeka Dibia
Contributing Writer

The controversial conversation about Entergy’s proposals to build a gas power plant in New Orleans East reignited on October 16, right on the front lawn of City Hall.

Members of the Energy Future New Orleans Coalition (EFNO) gathered at Duncan Plaza holding up signs while urging citizens to join their effort against the power plant. The EFNO is composed of New Orleans East residents, business owners and renewable and sustainable energy advocates including the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Sierra Club, VAYLA New Orleans and Alliance for Affordable Energy.

The executive director for the Alliance for Affordable Energy, Lauren Burke, was one of many people who spoke out urging the city to find more green-friendly options.

“New Orleans shouldn’t have to pay one more cent for something that doesn’t move us forward. We don’t want this expensive, old-fashioned gas power plant, and we don’t want to pay for it for the next 30 years. According to our analysis the need for this gas plant could be entirely avoided with even modest increases in energy savings,” Burke said.

However, Entergy says the plant is needed to ensure reliability during peak usage times, prevent the risk of blackouts, and keep up with the expected increase of power needed in the city of New Orleans in the coming years. Also, Entergy says the new power plant will be able to generate enough electricity to power the entire city of New Orleans, if transmission lines were to become damaged during a storm, and will “have lower emissions, use minimal groundwater and will reduce the overall impact on the environment.”

The EFNO rally came ahead of a public hearing with the New Orleans City Council hours later at which council members heard from representatives of Entergy New Orleans as well as the many community members who packed City Hall.

During the hearing, Entergy presented two options for the council to consider for the proposed plant. The first is a 226-megawatt combustion turbine (CT), which was submitted in the original filing back in June. The combustion turbine is also used in aviation for its ability to generate large amounts of power.

The second option is a 128-megawatt unit utilizing reciprocating engines, which are the same types of engines used in cars and trucks. A feature of this unit is its self-start capability, enabling it to be started even without power on the power grid. The reciprocating engines were put forth by Entergy for consideration this past summer after having received a great deal of criticism from environmental advocates about the original proposal.

While many advocates stood on the same side as the EFNO, at the public hearing several others spoke out in favor of the new plant.

Howard Rodgers III, executive director of the New Orleans Council on Aging, urged against sitting idle while additional elements of the city’s infrastructure fall into disrepair.

“We administer the Power to Care program which Entergy funds. I’m in support of the plant because Entergy has always been a good corporate partner, especially in working with us, with the elderly population and since this is a gas-fired plant, gas is an energy that we utilize that does not have any kind of additional effects,” Rodgers said. “This is the question that I always ask: What happens one of those days when you go to turn the power on and there’s no power? We live in a city that is 300 years old. We need to do something with our infrastructure. We already know about our water system… so let’s not let our power system go to pot.”

Richard Arnold, director of development and communications at Covenant House New Orleans, echoed Rodgers’ sentiments, urging the council and citizens to be open to a combined solution.

“I am very much in favor of investing in [renewable] energy. But I don’t think it’s an ‘either/or,’ I think it’s a ‘both/and.’ I think natural gas is an ideal bridge fuel that will help us get to our long-term renewable goals, because it’s clean and it’s cheap and it’s regionally abundant, so I support the plant,” said Arnold.

Entergy has made a commitment to pursuing up to 100 megawatts of renewable resources.

If approved, the new gas-fired plant would take the place of the now-defunct 1960s-era Michoud power plant on Old Gentilly Road. The City Council decided to hold off on voting on the plant until next year (possibly February) to properly review all elements of the complex decision.

For more information about the proposed plant, visit

This article originally published in the October 23, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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