Council postpones votes on Entergy plant repeal, $5 million fine

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The New Orleans City Council has delayed a vote on a resolution that would repeal its March 8 approval of Entergy New Orleans’ proposed $211 million power plant in eastern New Orleans.

The resolution, announced last week, was originally scheduled for a special City Council meeting on Wednesday. But on Monday, Council President Jason Williams and Vice President Helena Moreno announced that the vote will be pushed back to February. On Tuesday morning, the council formally cancelled the special meeting.

The move followed critical remarks from Councilman Jay Banks, who asked that the public be given more opportunities to comment on such a major vote.

Now, instead of a single meeting set for this week, the public will be given two chances to speak out on the issue. The resolution is set to be introduced at a February 13 meeting of the utility committee. And it will be considered again during a full council meeting on Feb. 21.

“There is a consensus that members have not had sufficient time to consult with each other nor the Council’s consultants about the suggested proposals,” read a Monday press release from Williams and Moreno. “Additionally, it is the consensus of the Council that to provide for adequate public response, this should first be addressed at a meeting of the Utility, Cable, Telecommunications, and Technology Committee (UCTTC) followed by a regular Council meeting.”

Also postponed is a vote on a proposed $5 million fine against Entergy New Orleans for its alleged role in an astroturfing scandal in 2017 and 2018. As The Lens reported in May, a number of people — including some professional actors — were paid to appear at City Council meetings in support of the plant proposal.

Entergy has denied having any role in hiring the actors — instead blaming its former public affairs contractor for hiring the California-based firm Crowds on Demand for the power-plant campaign — but in the fall, a council-commissioned investigation found that the company “knew or should have known” about the scheme.

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