After initially postponing a decision amid local opposition, the St. Charles Parish Council voted this month to allow construction of a gas compression station that will help fuel a new power plant in Montz.
Once built, the station will feed natural gas to an $869 million power plant being built by Entergy Louisiana. Officials say the plant will be more efficient than other energy sources, saving customers a total of $1.3 billion over 30 years.
Council members on Nov. 13 voted to rezone a residential parcel of land in Montz so Gulf South Pipeline Co. can build the compression station. The council also approved a special permit that allows Gulf South to operate the station.
The agreement came with a "litany of conditions" that will address concerns about traffic, safety and noise pollution that residents worried would result from the new station, according to Michael Albert, the parish's planning and zoning director.
After negotiating with the parish, the company also agreed to spend $2 million on drainage improvements in the Montz area.
In a joint statement with Gulf South, Entergy officials said the companies had reached an "amicable solution" with residents who had opposed the station's construction.
The power plant in St. Charles Parish was announced last year 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 2017.
Residents protested the gas compressor station for months, however, leading the council in August to delay the zoning change needed to allow industrial development in the area.
Among other concerns, residents said they had issues with 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 with 269 signatures opposing the project.
During the council's Nov. 13 meeting, however, only one person spoke out against it.
Bob Fisher, a nearby resident and member of the parish’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, said he had for months asked the council to reject the proposal because the request boiled down to "spot zoning," or giving special treatment to one piece of land.
Fisher said the land should stay zoned the way it is to allow for further residential development.
Others spoke in favor of the compression station, including John Sanchez, an Entergy employee who had previously opposed the new facility. Sanchez said he was happy with the company's effort to resolve safety concerns and improve drainage in the area.
Gulf South said the $30 million project will generate approximately $800,000 annually in additional tax revenue to the parish.
The St. Charles Power Station in Montz is designed to be capable of generating 980 megawatts of electricity daily — enough power, officials say, to run all of New Orleans on the hottest day of the year.