Entergy Louisiana's new natural gas-burning power plant in St. Charles Parish has hit a snag, with opposition based on safety concerns about a separate facility that would help fuel the main plant.
Entergy broke ground on the new power plant in Montz in January. The $869 million project is supposed to be more efficient than other sources, saving customers a total of $1.3 billion over 30 years.
But the St. Charles Parish Council voted 5-3 this month to indefinitely postpone a zoning request for a separate gas compression station for the site.
Residents have pushed back for months against the zoning change necessary to allow industrial development in the area. They are particularly concerned about potential dangers posed by the compression plant, which would be as little as 100 feet away from some homes.
In June, Montz residents presented Entergy and Gulf South Pipeline, the company that would operate the compression plant, with 269 signatures opposing the project.
Entergy spokesman Michael Burns said the company is still hoping to get the compression plant approved. He said there is enough flexibility in the construction schedule to complete the project on time in 2019, should the council allow it to move forward.
Gulf South is meeting with residents to hear their concerns and can resubmit the project design at any time, Burns said. So far, no deadline has been suggested.
Burns acknowledged that there are alternative ways to power the new plant, but the Montz compressor station "remains Entergy’s preferred option to provide reliable service at the lowest reasonable cost."
Gulf South said the $30 million project would generate approximately $800,000 annually in additional tax revenue to the parish.
The power plant in St. Charles Parish was announced after an abundance of cheap natural gas became available, leading to tens of billions of dollars’ worth of planned investment in major industrial projects throughout Louisiana.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission gave Entergy permission to move forward with the project in November.
The St. Charles Power Station in Montz is designed to be capable of generating 980 megawatts of electricity daily. That's enough power to run all of New Orleans on the hottest day of the year when air conditioners are working overtime. One megawatt is enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.
Editor's note: An original post incorrectly named the company building the gas compression plant.