If someone told you that Louisiana could have more jobs and cheaper energy, it would be hard to say no. Yet, that’s exactly what seems to be happening in our corner of the state.
Just after the turn of this century, it was announced that we would have a new power plant in Bogalusa. Known as the Washington Parish Energy Center, construction began and was nearly completed a few years later.
Then in 2006, the energy market went bust. The demand for new power plants dried up, and the Washington Parish project was halted. Over the years, the plant has sat incomplete and idle, waiting for the demand for energy to once again ramp back up.
A decade later, the partially constructed plant remains as a stark reminder of the unfulfilled promise of private economic development our part of the state so desperately needs.
But it doesn’t have to remain that way. The CEO of Entergy Louisiana was recently quoted talking about the increase in demand for energy in our state that is coming from “our rapidly growing economy” in Louisiana.
As a result of that growth, Entergy recently inked a deal to buy a power plant all the way over in Arkansas, and in our own state, they have announced plans to build a new plant from scratch in St. Charles Parish. And since that announcement, they have issued a new request for even more new energy supplies.
Starting over doesn’t make financial sense for ratepayers, and it won’t help the people of Washington Parish find good, well-paying jobs, but Entergy doesn’t seem overly interested in taking advantage of the opportunity in Bogalusa.
Even worse: By abandoning the opportunity to finish the existing facility, Entergy would be condemning it to remain vacant for the foreseeable future. It would serve as a costly, constant reminder of what could have been for the people of Bogalusa and greater Louisiana.
When it is completed, the Washington Parish Energy Center will provide needed tax revenue for our area, good jobs and affordable energy for our entire region. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another couple of decades before we can see it become a reality.
Richard “Ned” Thomas Jr.
Washington Parish president
Randy “Country” Seal
Washington Parish sheriff