Community Organizations Call on New Orleans City Council to Investigate Entergy New Orleans Spending
Energy Future New Orleans (EFNO) joins other organizations in calling for the New Orleans City Council to investigate utility spending related to advertising, public relations, consulting, lobbying and commissioned research for “Operation Gridiron.
The letter also requests that the council join the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) in their investigation of jurisdictional electric, water, wastewater, and gas utilities' use of ratepayer funds on political spending (docket R-36832).
In the past year, it has become increasingly clear that Entergy New Orleans (ENO) has devoted substantial resources in an highly coordinated effort to promote and influence the public and law makers – including primetime television advertisements and funding of a recently established “independent” nonprofit organization, Resilience NOLA, to produce research and testimony in support of “Operation Gridiron,” a $1 billion plan to upgrade utility infrastructure for the City of New Orleans, to be paid for by new fees for New Orleans ratepayers.
As stated in their letter to council members, “Grid-hardening is essential, particularly in New Orleans. But the fact of the matter is that New Orleanians have been asked to pay higher utility bills for poorer services for many years, to the point where electricity is unaffordable for many households. ENO may be entitled to the opportunity for a reasonable rate of profit, but the relationship between the utility and its ratepayers cannot be one-sided; ENO must be held accountable for its shortcomings."
Despite the robust influence campaign waged on behalf of Operation Gridiron, members of the Climate Change and Sustainability Committee advanced only parts of ENO’s proposed investments, limiting rate hikes on ratepayers in order to move forward with projects for which ENO received federal grant funding and which were determined to have public benefit. But reporting following that meeting revealed that testimony provided during the hearing, which was presented as independent expertise, was in fact funded by ENO in an effort to bolster passage of the full $1 billion proposal and further raise electric bills.
As the regulator for ENO, the Council now has the opportunity – and an obligation – to determine whether or not the utility is using ratepayer funds to finance these advertising and advocacy efforts rather than investing in repairs to its poorly maintained and unreliable grid.
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The Energy Future New Orleans Coalition is: