Today, the City Council of New Orleans (“Council”) stands at a crossroads. One path, the
path proposed by Entergy New Orleans (“ENO” or “the Company”), is old, worn, and well past its usefulness. Essentially, ENO wants New Orleans to remain mired in the past, to build yet another fossil-fueled power plant that is unnecessary, will cost New Orleans ratepayers millions of dollars, will subject residents to increased levels of air pollution, and contribute to climate change.
The other path is recognition of the future of clean, sustainable energy generation and the harmful impacts of fossil-fuel generation. It is a path already selected by regulated utilities, states and local governments across this country. Utilities are abandoning reliance on fossil fuels and adopting a mix of new technologies. Technologies such as solar and battery storage, combined with innovative energy efficiency programs and demand response are replacing proposed fossil-fueled power plants across the country. This is the path that the Council should choose.
More important, ENO has utterly failed to prove that building either a 226 MW CT plant
or a 128 MW RICE unit is in the public interest. As the intervenors and the Advisors have
demonstrated, ENO has failed to establish that it will have a capacity need for either size gas-fired plant in the next ten years. Evidence actually supports the conclusion that ENO will not need additional capacity for fifteen years. Moreover, ENO’s proposed gas-fired plant would put New Orleans customers at unnecessary financial risk by requiring residents and businesses to pay for generation that they do not need and will also place at risk future investment in either renewable generation or demand-side management.
Similarly, while ENO created a reliability need by its decision to close Michoud Units 2
and 3, that need can be met far more cheaply and more quickly by alternatives to the gas-fired plant that ENO steadfastly refused to fully consider. The evidence demonstrates that gas-fired generation is not needed to meet reliability standards, and that neither NOPS alternative would mitigate reliability concerns in any way in the next two years. In fact, ENO’s own data show that transmission upgrades, in combination with energy efficiency measures and solar generation, could resolve reliability violations more cheaply than either gas-fired plant. ENO’s reliability arguments offer no support for approval of either gas-fired plant.
Furthermore, the gas-fired plants are not the least-cost alternatives and, in fact, would
cost ratepayers more than transmission and solar-powered solutions. As the Advisor witnesses conclude, upgrading New Orleans’ transmission lines and installing utility-scale solar, instead of constructing a gas-fired plant, would be the “economically preferred alternative.” Moreover, ENO failed to adequately assess the impacts of constructing a gas-fired plant on the environment. These impacts include increased air pollution, subsidence or flooding. Similarly, ENO failed to adequately assess the impacts on the predominantly African American and Vietnamese American communities living near the Michoud site.
Thus, the Council should find that 1) there is no need for the capacity; 2) reliability
concerns can be addressed through less costly and more timely means; and 3) neither proposal is in the public interest. Based on these finding, the Council should reject both ENO applications. The Council also should institute a transmission reliability proceeding to fully examine all the alternatives available to resolve the reliability concerns created by the deactivation of Michoud units 2& 3.