Entergy lines too close to homeJul 22nd, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
At the most recent Plaquemines Parish Council meeting, held in the temporary Courthouse on F. Edward Hebert Boulevard on July 14, Councilman Anthony Buras, District 5, called on Entergy to explain the latest phase in their plan for creating an additional transmission line that would run down Highway 23 in support of the existing Walker Road station and Alliance substation. Residents and Council members were fighting the proposed route for the line, because of the proximity of the upcoming installation of poles and lines near area houses, specifically in the Jesuit Bend area.
At the moment, Plaquemines Parish has a single transmission line running through the parish. With the proposed new transmission line, Entergy Customer Service Manager Molly Buckley said the company will be able to provide more reliable service, quickly repair black-outs in service caused by storms and be able to sustain any growth the Parish might have in the coming years.
Buras mentioned how people in District 5 have already been approached by individuals, not direct Entergy employees, to begin the necessary land acquisitions for power poles and subsequent lines that will run along the proposed route.
“I stress, they are not direct Entergy employees, but have been hired by them to do the land acquisition,” Buras said.
Normally, the right-of-way for construction is only permitted up to 25′ or 30′, which is why Entergy has to seek permission from the landowners and the parish before implementing this transmission route for approval. For this process, Entergy has requested the Parish and land owners grant right of way access for a total of 50 feet in from the road.
After speaking with the land acquisition representatives, several residents approached Buras—a few of them were present at the meeting—about health and land concerns, given the increased proximity to local homes.
Two Entergy representatives—Customer Service Manager Molly Buckley and Project Manager Bryan McCarty—were present to address residents concerns and explain Entergy’s reasons for choosing the route along Plaquemines’ Highway 23, instead of along the existing route, which runs through marshland nowhere near residential homes. Entergy’s position: the second line is necessary to increase reliability of service and the location picked because of the relatively low cost—which will be passed on to Entergy’s subscribers state-wide either way.
“[The route] was chosen for preference to landowners and environmental aspects,” McCarty said, about how the route closely approaches some homes and completely misses others. “[This route] will also keep us out of the water and prevent any damage associated with that.”
The poles Entergy uses are anywhere from 90 to 110 feet high and will run variably along the road from every 250 feet in some areas to 500 or 600 feet apart in other areas, depending on the distribution of the land. Those who are inconvenienced by the new route will be compensated, Buckley said. A third party consultant is performing all the appraisals, so they are fair assessments to landowners and Entergy, said Buckley.
“What’s going to happen to property value? We don’t know that,” Buckley said. “Our goal is to not impact any permanent structures.”
However, before the council was willing to commit to any plan, especially one that was so problematic for one part of the Parish, they wanted to be sure there were no other possible locations where Entergy could place this transmission line.
“There have been reliability problems in the past, and the line is difficult to get through to repair,” Buckley said about the current line’s marsh location.
“The problem is Entergy does not want to mitigate and go across the marsh, and it is cheaper,” Buras said. “What about the health concerns with the 200 KV (kilovolts) going through that line?”
“Here you’re going to be inconveniencing residents,” Councilman Burghart Turner, District 6, said. “I wonder, if the nuisance caused is taken into consideration?”
By Entergy’s figures, the proposed plan for following Highway 23 would be two to three times cheaper—$45 million compared to $125 million—than following the other route through the marshland, and ten times cheaper than running lines underground.
But that begged the question, how much does that difference actually mean for the average Entergy customer across the state?
“That’s an important number to know,” Council Chairman Dr. Stuart Guey said.
“Is it a 3-percent increase we’re talking about to inconvenience a group, because it costs more, but how much more to each individual?”
Kirk Lepine, District 3, asked if there was an imminent need for the additional line, or if there were any threats to citizen’s power because of the load burden on the current line.
McCarty said the lines are fine for now, but given the rate of expansion in the Parish, this additional line will be needed eventually, at least with-in the next decade by Entergy’s estimates.
“But with that increase in business comes a return on investment,” Guey said. “That needs to be considered.”
“If we can mitigate something to make this more palatable, that’s what I’m talking about here,” Guey continued.
“I live in District 5 and I haven’t received any information on this, I don’t know if I’m included” said Belle Chasse resident Cindy Ancar. “But I have seen these poles go up in District 6, and my mom and dad received a statement…the pole is directly in the middle of their yard. And from what I understand, they were told, ‘You can’t stop progress,’” Ancar continued. “I’m hoping we don’t let this happen here.”
“This is just to benefit Entergy, helping them save money,” Ancar said. “When I get my bill, I’m paying for Katrina, I’m paying for electric, I’m paying for the fuel…there are two hurricanes we’re paying for, and when I called to say ‘How long?’ they said, ‘Indefinitely.’”
“Where Entergy first went wrong is with their subcontractor,” resident Denise Buford said, who, when confronted by the land acquisition personnel, found they had no answers except to say, “I don’t blame you for not wanting a pole in your front yard.”
At which point Buras asked for a suspension of the rules to introduce a resolution expressing the Parish’s concerns with the route for this transmission line being placed along Highway 23 for the Alliance substation.
“Be it further resolved by the Plaquemines Parish Council that it strongly recommends to Entergy Louisiana that it reconsider the LA Hwy 23 route selected and consider alternative routes discussed at its July 14, 2011 presentation to the Parish Council,” the resolution read as it was introduced. The legislation also called for copies of the resolution to be sent to Entergy, Governor Bobby Jindal, every member of the Parish’s state legislative delegation and congressional delegation.
The Council approved the resolution 9-0, and further discussion on the matter will be taking place in the coming weeks.