NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A resolution that would allow Entergy to move forward with a controversial power plant goes before a New Orleans Council Committee tomorrow morning (Feb 14). We’re learning more about that plant that will be built in New Orleans East, and why one expert believes it’s the best option for the city.
Entergy plans to build a 128-megawatt power plant in New Orleans East. According to the utility, it’s “a modern, efficient, clean natural gas plant, that is safe for surrounding communities.” And, the company says it will be built “exactly where a much larger, older, and less environmentally friendly plant was located for the past 60 years.”
Entergy says the New Orleans Power Station will also prevent widespread outages in the city and aid in hurricane restoration efforts.
Eric Smith with Tulane’s Energy Institute agrees it’s the best option for the city.
“I think it’s a fairly innocuous facility. It’s a much smaller footprint than the plant that was there, which is also gas-fired but was a less efficient system,” said Smith. “It helps with hurricanes and emergencies, it helps with peak demand during those few days of the year when we push for capacity.”
But some residents and the Alliance for Affordable Energy have been against the power plant.
“We don’t want the gas plant, and who wants a gas plant in their neighborhood? No one in their right mind,” said Mark Ngyuen with the multi-cultural community-based group VAYLA.
Those opposed to the power plant were not happy to learn Tuesday that the New Orleans City Council is considering a resolution that would fine Entergy $5 million for paying actors to speak in favor of it last year. As part of the compromise, that money would be used for Sewerage and Water Board infrastructure improvements, and Entergy would be allowed to move forward with building the plant.
“This power plant represents at least 30 years of paying for a technology that is very likely to become obsolete and is already being pushed aside in other parts of our country,” said Alliance for Affordable Energy Executive Director Logan Burke.
“Every major forecast that I’ve seen out to 2050 says 80 percent of our power generation is going to be fossil fuels. If it’s going to be fossil fuels, natural gas is easily the cleanest of them and the most efficient of them,” Smith said.
When considering alternative forms of energy like wind farms or solar panels, Smith says the problem is New Orleans is a crowded place and land is at a premium. He says you would need a 100 times as much space for a solar farm as you would for a small gas plant. He adds when the sun goes down you would need something to bridge the gap, and he says the New Orleans Power Station is the kind of plant that can help with that.
Entergy also says without the New Orleans Power Station the city and its citizens are at risk. With it, the utility says a baseline level of grid reliability will be established.
The company says it also voluntarily commits to reporting to the city council every three years on any available technology that would improve the plant’s efficiency or lower its emissions.