This is the blog for the Delta (Louisiana) Chapter of the Sierra Club. This blog is a forum for discussion of the environment, and issues affecting it, in the State of Louisiana and surrounding areas.
For our Families, for our future.
Little Gypsy Project Will Mean Big Pain for Ratepayers
BATON ROUGE -Today community groups rallied in opposition to Entergy's plan to pass the costs of its "Little Gypsy" re-powering project on to Louisiana's ratepayers. Entergy plans to replace its current power plant, which burns natural gas, with a plant that burns coal and petroleum coke, a refinery waste product.
The Alliance for Affordable Energy, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Sierra Club, and Gulf Restoration Network challenged the proposal at a Louisiana Public Service Commission hearing in Baton Rouge. The groups are opposed to the plant's greatly increased contribution to global warming, its higher toxic load on the environment, and the high costs the plan will impose on ratepayers.
"Burning coal produces twice as much greenhouse gas pollution as burning natural gas," says John Atkeison, director of Climate and Clean Energy Programs for the Alliance for Affordable Energy. "This means that Entergy will be imposing the hardship and costs of accelerating global warming on Louisiana and the world if they switch from natural gas to coal and coke."
"Little Gypsy is already a financial boondoggle," says Karen Wimpleberg, chair of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, "$500 million more since the original estimate they gave the Public Service Commission. Yet they want ratepayers to prepay the bill. This is a terrible risk for ratepayers but a sweet deal for shareholders."
While utilities normally can recover the costs of a plant after the project is complete, Entergy is seeking to pass the costs of Little Gypsy on to its customers before it even begins construction. In the months since Entergy's announcement of the project, the estimated cost has already increased by 50 percent. Long-term costs for the ratepayers will likely increase as well since the proposed fuel switch will increase the plant's emissions of the pollutants responsible for global warming - just as Congress prepares to penalize such pollution.
Louisiana stands at particular risk from global warming; if such warming continues unchecked, rising sea levels are projected to increase flooding and accelerate the loss of the state's coastal wetlands. Such risks have prompted Florida's Public Service Commission to reject proposals for new coal-fired power plants. "Louisiana should follow Florida's lead," says Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network. "We've seen what global warming means for the Gulf; it should be clear we need action to address global warming, not more pollution to make the problem worse."
Leslie March, chair of the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club says, "The PSC is composed of elected officials, and it's time for them to consider the best interests of their constituents. We've jointly launched www.sayyestocleanenergy.org so the public can remind the PSC that South Louisiana is ground zero for climate change impacts, and it is time to shift away from dirty energy sources like coal."
Coke and coal are vastly dirtier fuels than natural gas, contributing to smog and other pollution that causes asthma and a variety of other respiratory diseases. "Louisiana has cheaper, cleaner, better alternatives to satisfy its energy needs," says Marylee Orr of Louisiana Environmental Action Network, noting that simple, inexpensive measures to increase energy efficiency could sharply reduce Louisiana's need for electricity and that investment in renewable energy could boost the economy and create jobs.
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Atchafalaya Basinkeeper Dean Wilson 225-692-4114
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper Paul Orr 225-928-1315