On Friday, January 6, the Public Interest Intervenors, a coordinated group of advocates including the Alliance for Affordable Energy, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and the Sierra Club, submitted expert testimony to oppose Entergy’s proposal to build a new gas plant in New Orleans East. According to the testimony from a utility economist with an engineering background, a geology professor specializing in Louisiana’s local and regional impacts of land subsidence, and experts in environmental health and sociology, Entergy’s application to build is un-supported by reality and not in the public interest.
Consequences of building this plant range from great financial risk, to health and safety risks, racial discrimination, and coastal risks.
According to testimony by Patrick Luckow of Synapse Energy Economics, ENO’s case for their proposed plant, called New Orleans Power Station (NOPS), is fundamentally a gamble with City ratepayers’ money. New Orleans doesn’t have money to waste on an unnecessary and expensive power plant when we are already wasting so much energy. The plant is expected to cost $216 Million in to build, which doesn’t include operating, maintenance, and fuel costs for the next 40 years. Entergy stands to make tens of millions of dollars. The testimony outlines Entergy’s failure to consider energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage as resources.
The Public Interest Intervernors’ filing also discusses the flood risk to the plant, as a result of combined subsidence, sea level rise, and storm surge. Dr. Alexander Kolker, a coastal geologist, considers the recently released Coastal Master Plan. This iteration of the Master Plan, the latest update of Louisiana’s plan to protect our fragile coast, is less optimistic than the version released in 2012. The Michoud area location Entergy has chosen for their proposed plant shows considerable flood and land-loss risk in the Master Plan. Dr. Kolker suggests the city council have a full investigation of the risk of continued subsidence and potential damage to the flood protection structures that keep our city safe.
The last two experts consider the very real environmental justice issues and health concerns related to the proposed plant. From the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dr. Beverly Wright’s analysis concludes that the geographic proximity of the plant and communities of African American and Vietnamese families would have a discriminatory effect. This effect may put the council at risk of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which offers protections to vulnerable communities against unjust and unequal impact.
Finally, Dr. George Thurston, with years of experience in researching health effects from power plant pollution, concludes there is no threshold below which effects of particulate matter released from the plant will not cause an increase in the risk of severe health impacts.
The bottom line is, this plant would be good for Entergy but bad for everybody else. Entergy is looking at last century solutions to this century problems. New Orleans has an opportunity and a responsibility to our future to make decisions based on reality and modern solutions.
Click through to read the testimony.
2.) Redacted Testimony of Patrick W. Luckow, Synapse Energy Economics, Inc.
3.) Testimony of Dr. Alexander S. Kolker, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium
4.) Dr. Beverly Wright, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
5.) Dr. George D. Thurston, New York University School of Medicine