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Nuclear plant that powers Entergy is down again; could impact customer bills

Entergy cited a need for the plant to refuel as the reason for the closure.

NEW ORLEANS — The nuclear power plant that supplies about a third of Entergy New Orleans power is offline again. Entergy does not have an estimated timeframe of when it could be back.

Entergy said the plant went offline Tuesday around 4:00PM. 

That was hours after Entergy representatives gave an update to the New Orleans City Council utility committee earlier that day. 

In the meeting, Entergy representatives said that the nuclear power plant, Grand Gulf, was offline in March and April. 

Entergy said that was one factor that contributed to the spike of higher bills this summer.

“Gas at that point had not spiked up to the level that we have seen so there wouldn't necessarily be a huge impact from that. But with Grand Gulf back on that certainly benefits our customers,” an Entergy representative said at the meeting.  

Entergy said the reason for that closure was because of a scheduled refueling.

“When the Grand Gulf goes off, we would replace that power through the miso market,” an Entergy representative said. 

According to Entergy, the plant in Mississippi supplies about a third of the power to Entergy New Orleans and half comes from natural gas.

“Generally, the power that you're going to be buying on the miso market is going to be natural gas,” an Entergy representative said. 

The plant is now down due to a defective valve, according to Eric Skrmetta, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner. 

“It may have no impact. It could have a few pennies impact on the differential, but for right now, we’re not seeing any particular differential impact,” Eric Skrmetta, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner District 1 said.

Entergy Louisiana owns a smaller portion of the plant than Entergy New Orleans. So, the outage and the outage should have less impact on Entergy Louisiana customers.

Council Vice President and Utilities Committee Chair, JP Morrell, said New Orleanians will see a difference.

“What you’re going to see is a tremendous bill spike,” JP Morrell, Council Vice President, said.

Morrell said this is unacceptable and will demand answers at the next utility meeting.

“Why do we have to keep eating the loss on something that we paid for under a promise that it would lower our utility bills?” Morrell said. 

Entergy representatives stated that other factors that could be contributing to the increase in bills are higher temperatures, usage, and a credit from a previous settlement that expired in March no longer being applied to customer's bills. 

"It goes back to that general rage that people have that all of the risk of when Entergy doesn't work falls on the rate payers and not the corporation," Morrell said.

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