Tell City Council to Make Good Energy Decisions for New Orleans!

Tell City Council to Make Good Energy Decisions for New Orleans!

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Julianna Padgett started this petition to Julianna Padgett

Dear New Orleans City Councilmembers:

On March 8, 2018, the previous City Council voted 6-1 in favor of a 128 MW gas plant to be built by Entergy.  Since that vote, it was discovered that Entergy had not been honest and forthright in its dealings with the public and the Council. In addition, two lawsuits have been filed to remedy the Council’s violations of the Open Meetings Law and to reverse the Council’s decision.

We appreciate that the current Council is taking steps to correct this situation by reconsidering this vote.  We urge the Council to use its important regulatory power over Entergy in support of New Orleans residents, to repair our aging infrastructure and to protect our fragile environment. 

In its regulatory role, the Council should prioritize energy options that would give the greatest cost-benefit. Expanded energy efficiency programs, renewable energy sources, a dependable transmission grid, and improved infrastructure meet this goal.

We oppose the building of the power plant for these reasons:

Environmental Justice. We believe that no neighborhood should be sacrificed to polluting industry. However, Entergy proposes to build the gas plant near homes and schools in New Orleans East, where residents would be exposed to more than one million pounds of toxic air pollution, including particulate matter that can cause premature death even at permitted levels. It was not until after the Council’s vote that Entergy revealed the gas plant would release even greater amounts of air pollution, including eight tons of ammonia each year. This is an unjust burden that would disproportionately harm African American and Vietnamese American residents.

Cost Burden in a High Poverty City. Our city has limited dollars. More than half of families in New Orleans struggle to get by, and 24 percent live in poverty. The high cost of Entergy bills rank New Orleans second in the nation for the highest cost burden on low income households. Entergy has put an initial cost estimate for construction of the gas plant at $210 million, which would worsen this financial stress. Meanwhile, we have aging infrastructure that must be updated at ratepayer’s expense as well as an estimated $1.2B Sewerage and Water Board repair bill to face.

Accurate Information Re: Need Has Not Been Demonstrated – Repair the Distribution System First.  The Council has a responsibility to ensure that accurate information about the gas plant is conveyed to the public. Entergy has not demonstrated there is a need for the gas plant, but instead makes baseless claims. One of these claims was that the gas plant would fix power outages, which is completely false. Another claim by Entergy is that the gas plant is needed in the event of transmission failures. The power outages result from an aging and poorly maintained distribution system of wires, poles and substations. Entergy received significant public and insurance funds after two storm events. Customers were and are still being charged for infrastructure repairs and upgrades from those storms. Repairing the aging distribution system is the only and best cost-benefit solution for a reliable energy distribution that we need.

Entergy’s Gamble. We are also disturbed that the City Council would consider New Orleans to be on the “hook” and forced to pay Entergy’s gambling debt of $96 Million, which was incurred before the utility had all environmental permits, and while the Council’s decision was in court on an appeal.

Most Expensive Choice. The Entergy gas plant, which is to be used to supply peak power, should NOT be included in the range of options the Council considers. Peaking power plants are the most expensive way to supply energy and regulators around the country are withdrawing approval for them in the interest of more cost-effective options. The projected initial $210 million cost of construction, which does not include annual operations, maintenance and fuel costs, will impact every citizen for at least three decades, especially low income households. These figures do not include cost overruns, for which we the people of this city will have no protection. The expense of operating this plant would also increase with the costs of repairs due to storms and flood events as a result of Entergy’s foolish decision to build it in a high-risk flood hazard area, which goes against FEMA policy and ignores our vulnerability to climate change.

Thus, the building of this plant undermines environmental, economic, and social justice, as well as good governance and sound utility regulation. It is clear that Entergy will benefit, but the people of New Orleans will lose in so many ways if this plant is built.

Please protect our neighborhoods, our dollars and our climate – support energy efficiency, renewables and a dependable distribution grid. Do not allow the Entergy gas plant to be constructed.

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