Will the City Council give in to Entergy and add nearly $700 million gas plant to customers’ bills?
Entergy ignores judgment that voids City Council approval of gas plant and raises the cost from $210 million to nearly $700 million
New Orleans - October 21, 2019 - The rate that New Orleans residents will pay on Entergy bills will be taken up by the City Council utility committee when it meets at 10:00 am on Wednesday, October 23 in Council Chambers. Advocacy groups warn that the rate plans recommended by Entergy and advisors to the City Council include expensive charges that would be billed to Entergy customers at a later date.
Documents prepared by Entergy show that, after the rate is decided, Entergy plans to charge customers nearly $700 million for the gas plant it is building in New Orleans East. In these documents, Entergy ignores the court judgment that voids approval by the City Council to pass the cost of the gas plant on to New Orleans customers. Also, Entergy does not explain why it did not disclose the nearly $700 million cost when it sought Council approval for the gas plant. In the application to the City Council, Entergy claimed the gas plant would cost $210 million.
“Entergy’s rate plan would make it more expensive to live in New Orleans. The rate plan is really about paying Entergy shareholders for a gas plant that would harm our neighborhoods and worsen climate change. We don’t need it,” said Dawn Hebert, a resident of New Orleans East.
A state court judge threw out the City Council approval of the Entergy gas plant for violation of the Open Meetings Law. The judge ruled that Entergy’s use of paid actors at City Council meetings undermined the rights of New Orleans residents to have their voices heard. The City Council and Entergy have appealed the judgment, which is currently pending at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.
“From day one, Entergy has been unethical and dishonest about this gas plant,” said Rev. Gregory Manning, Justice & Beyond. “The City Council should reject Entergy’s plan to charge us for a gas plant that does not have valid approval,” he said.
According to the documents filed by Entergy which have been analyzed by the Alliance for Affordable Energy, more than $30 million would be charged to customers in the first year of the gas plant operation. “Entergy plans to charge New Orleans customers for the gas plant over the next 30 years, which will extend our energy poverty and reliance on fossil fuels,” said Logan Burke, Alliance for Affordable Energy.
Entergy claims the gas plant is needed in the event of an emergency, but has refused to look at cheaper alternatives. Instead, Entergy has chosen to build the nearly $700 million gas plant in a high-risk flood hazard area, where FEMA flood policy discourages building power plants. New Orleans residents may be on the hook for expenses to repair the gas plant in the event of storm damage.
“The regulation of Entergy is a public process that has been corrupted,” said Monique Harden, attorney with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “We will continue our fight for justice,” she said.
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