Losing power during a hurricane is a reasonable expectation; however, a city-wide blackout in
New Orleans was not supposed to happen. The fact that it did raises serious questions about the
future of Entergy’s exclusive monopoly in New Orleans and that’s why I’m running for City Council.
In 2017, the New Orleans City Council, which has the sole authority to regulate Entergy in
Orleans Parish, granted the company a rate increase to build a natural gas-powered power plant
in New Orleans East. Opposition was strong, but Entergy successfully argued the plant was
necessary, stating “This could be a tremendous benefit if New Orleans is electrically ‘islanded’
from the rest of the interconnected transmission grid, as it was after Hurricane Gustav.”
The plant opened last year. And yet, despite Entergy’s promises, the entire city was without
power for days. Why didn’t the new plant work? Was Entergy lying? Is Entergy incompetent?
The Entergy debacle is just the latest in a long series of problems. On March 16, 2021, the New
Orleans City Council “agreed to a full management audit of Entergy New Orleans after a series
of recent failures resulted in power cuts to nearly four times as many of the city’s residents as
needed during the February freeze across the South.” (NOLA.com)
At the time, Helena Moreno, who chairs the City Council’s Utilities, Cable, Telecommunications
and Technology Committee, told Entergy executives, “”I hate to say it but it just was a complete
failure on y’all’s part. Ratepayers were left in the cold and the dark by mistakes that you made.”
The audit was requested by a number of energy watchdog groups, including the Alliance for
Affordable Energy. Other concerns raised by activist groups included why the deliberate rolling
blackouts disproportionately affected neighborhoods of color (Central City and N.O. East, for
example); spikes in winter bills for New Orleans consumers; customers’ ability to question bills
and service; and why 50% of the rolling outages occurred in New Orleans when the city only
accounts for 15% of the company’s regional customer base.
In March of this year, The Lens reported “The New Orleans City Council has joined two other
utility regulators to file a complaint against utility company Entergy Corp. over its management
of the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Mississippi. According to a press release from City
Councilwoman Helena Moreno, the complainants allege that the nuclear power plant’s frequent
outages have cost customers in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi more than $1 billion. The
complainants are seeking a refund.”
Last year the New Orleans City Council adopted a “Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standard,”
which was meant to compel Entergy toward greener, cleaner, decarbonized energy sources.
Entergy has resisted all efforts to move toward solar and wind power. And in 2018, the City
Council fined Entergy $5 million for hiring actors to pretend to be citizens at Council meetings.
Entergy’s problems, however, date back years prior to these recent controversies. A former
official in the State’s Department of Economic Development recently told me, “Don’t even get
me started on Entergy. It’s a major reason why we can’t land a Fortune 500 company. Poor and
Poor and outdated infrastructure. And yet last year, Entergy banked $1.4 billion in profits. That
number is obscene considering their poor and outdated infrastructure has contributed to the rising
death toll of Hurricane Ida. Simply put, Entergy’s greed and incompetence is killing people. We
must demand reform. That’s one of the reasons I’m running for City Council.
The New Orleans City Council has constitutional legislative authority to not only regulate but
also enact policy, which is greater authority than most other (state) commissions. This kind of
authority puts the City Council in a powerful position, poised to shape the energy future of New
Orleans for the benefit of its citizens. If elected to the City Council, I promise to not only oppose
any rate hikes, I will fight to hold Entergy accountable and move them toward cleaner, more
renewable energy. That’s why my campaign has refused to accept any financial contributions
Not only do I want to be Entergy’s worst nightmare, I want to build a better, brighter future for
New Orleans—and it’s not just the environment that will benefit. In addition to helping mitigate
the climate crisis, a paradigm shift toward green energy will also help diversify our local
economy. There are literally thousands of jobs waiting to be created in solar power and wind
farms. Those jobs are going somewhere and there is no reason they can’t come to New Orleans.
Federal infrastructure dollars are making their way through Congress now. Here in New Orleans
we have to make the most of dollars. That means learning the lessons of Katrina (don’t sit on the
money, spend it) and putting Entergy in check. If we use that money wisely, New Orleans can
have the best infrastructure in the world. But it’s going to take vision and leadership.
Ambush Magazine has endorsed Perez’ bid for City Council District C.