- The New Orleans City Council voted 4-1 last week to approve a gas-fired peaking power plant in the city limits that Entergy says is needed to avoid blackouts and make the system more storm-resilient.
- The 128 MW reciprocating engine plant is smaller than Entergy's initial proposal for a 226 MW combined cycle project, but could still keep the lights on in a storm, the company says.
- However, three lawyers have indicated they will challenge a committee vote to advance the project, alleging it defied public access requirements. The power plant, to be located in the eastern portion of the city, is also under fire from residents there.
Entergy has touted several benefits to the new plant, including blackstart capabilities that could help bring the city's lights back on in the event of a storm and widespread blackout. But opponents say the technology is outdated, alternatives were overlooked, and the city is dumping the plant in New Orleans East.
The New Orleans Advocate reports many Vietnamese-American protestors were on hand to oppose the city's vote, and were suspicious and upset due to a landfill that was previously built in that area of the city. And three lawyers have indicated the will sue over an earlier 4-1 committee vote, alleging it violated access requirements.
Councilwoman Susan Guidry was the lone vote against the project in both the committee and full council decisions. She argued the company should look to efficiency and renewables.
"The cost of the plant will be on your bills for the next 30 years," she said.
According to Enetrgy, however, it is still investing in emissions-free energy. The utility is working to develop 100 MW of renewable resources. But having the power plant in the city can be a boon to reliability, it says.
Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, said the council “came to a reasonable conclusion regarding the need for this unit.”
“The city needs local, reliable power generation that is affordable for all of our customers, and this facility will provide just that,” Rice said in a statement. He also decried "quite a bit of misinformation circulated over the last 18 months by opponents to the plant," and said that it would be sound from economic, safety and environmental perspectives.
The $210 million plant is scheduled to be in service by January 2020. The cost includes transmission and other project-related costs, and Entergy New Orleans anticipates issuing a full notice to proceed to the engineering, procurement and construction contractor later this month.