Renate Heurich’s Letter to the Editor: Seek Options Besides New Power Plant.
Originally published in The Advocate, minus one key paragraph (in bold below).
A recent opinion piece favored building a new gas power plant in New Orleans East. Gulf Coast residents are reeling from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, fueled by waters 1.8 degrees warmer than normal. Extreme rainfall is linked to more moisture in hotter air; climate change certainly made the unprecedented rainfall in Houston much worse. Sea level has risen one foot in the Gulf. When will we begin to take climate change seriously and look for energy alternatives to building a gas plant? What is easier? Avoiding the release of more greenhouse gases, or asking our kids to somehow extract them from the atmosphere?
Scientists have told us decades ago that we need to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions; we have dramatically increased them instead. Now they are telling us that the window to avoid catastrophic consequences is closing, and we are saying: Maybe in a few years, we will shift away from burning fossil fuels. What twisted logic to use the recent flooding events to scare us into believing we need to build another gas fired power plant!
Entergy describes natural gas as a harmless product. Methane is a greenhouse gas 86 times more powerful than CO2 over 20 years. Leaks during production and transport make climate impacts of a gas plant as severe as those of a coal fired power plant. The production of natural gas by fracking is a highly toxic and destructive process for soil and water. Generating electricity from natural gas releases into the air massive amounts of toxic pollution that damage the heart and lungs, and can cause cancer. And why assume that gas prices will remain at historic lows for the next decades?
Other facts not mentioned: Not one of our 2,000-plus power outages last year was related to a power plant. We are drawing power from the newly constructed Nine Mile Power Plant, located in Westwego, one mile away from the Carrollton S&WB facility, five miles from downtown. Michoud, proposed for the new gas plant, is located 13 miles away, on land that is rapidly sinking. The old Michoud power plants flooded catastrophically in Hurricane Katrina and were out of commission for almost one year.
Instead of investing $232 Million – plus $25 Million guaranteed Entergy profit – into a doomed project, we want more rooftop solar, community solar, solar choices for low income households. New Orleans’ potential is huge – 1,277MW of rooftop solar, not counting parking lots. Germany, which has the solar capacity of Alaska, is producing 7% of its electricity from solar. Entergy’s CEO Charles Rice falsely claims to city council members and the public that New Orleans doesn’t get enough sun light for solar power. Such false statements should not be tolerated from the CEO of a regulated monopoly.
Our obsolete power grid is causing the unacceptable number of outages. We want a modern and more reliable grid, not sagging power lines. And if we would build wind farms in the Gulf of Mexico we’d no longer be an energy island at the end of the line. Entergy wants to sell us as much power as they can. We need our city council to defend our interests against Entergy’s desire for profits.