Entergy New Orleans power station (updated rendering, as of 2-14-19)

Members of the New Orleans City Council will soon make a pivotal decision that will impact the future of the city. On Feb. 14, they’re scheduled to consider a settlement that involves the approval of New Orleans Power Station, a decision the Council thoroughly vetted and approved before the “astroturfing” controversy threw their well-made plan for the city’s future off course.

For the sake of New Orleans, it’s time to get the plan back on the tracks and moving forward. No city should be forced to live with risks that could affect the quality of life for its citizens for decades to come. I applaud the Council’s efforts for not waiting until the problem gets worse. There’s no doubt Entergy New Orleans’ integrity was questioned when we learned that one of its subcontractors used paid actors to speak in favor of the plant during public hearings. It was a disappointing and regrettable revelation, but it would be irresponsible for the Council to overturn a decision made after 18 months of careful analysis and deliberation.

For many reasons, New Orleans desperately needs a reliable source of local power. That’s not acceptable for any city, especially one poised for growth.

In recent months, headlines nationwide have recognized New Orleans as an evolving tech hub. U.S. News & World Report posed the question, “New Orleans: Silicon Valley of the South?” And, we were noted in Inc. Magazine’s “50 Best Places in America for Starting a Business.”

We want to attract new business and new talent to a great city. It’s in part what my colleagues and I have worked towards most of our careers — opening doors and opportunities for all who are willing. There are over a dozen universities, colleges and professional schools in the Greater New Orleans area. We owe it to younger generations to build a community where they can thrive.

For those who live here, work here and own businesses here, the failure to address the city’s urgent power-supply problem is a serious concern. It’s as simple as that. New Orleanians must face this concern together, and we must not delay a solution.

I understand that Entergy New Orleans’ new president and CEO, David Ellis, recently offered a settlement proposal related to the power station. It includes commitments to improve the reliability of New Orleans’ electric system and accelerate the development of solar generation in the city, as well as a renewed offer to work with the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board to address the agency’s power needs. Ellis also said that Entergy New Orleans is prepared to make a good faith payment of $5 million and commits to transparency going forward.

These sound like steps in the right direction. My hope is that the City Council and Entergy New Orleans can agree on a solution that will benefit the people of New Orleans, which should always be the ultimate goal in their actions and decisions. Only then can we bring the most important issue back into focus — the future of New Orleans.

Norman Francis

president emeritus, Xavier University

New Orleans