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Residents raise health concerns over proposed N.O. East power plant

NEW ORLEANS -- Plans for a new power plant in New Orleans East are being met with some resistance.

Those against the project held a meeting Tuesday night to share their thoughts with others in the community. Their message was simple, saying they don't want a power plant in their neighborhood.

MORE: Possibility of reopening Michoud power plant raises concerns

It was a full room of listeners as one-by-one, concerned citizens and some environmental representatives shared why a power plant in their neck of the woods is a bad idea.

"For me, there are too many other factors to say yes to $216 million for a facility that's moving in the wrong direction," said Dr. Beverly Wright. Wright was representing the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Inc. "We're trying to move away from fossil fuels and you're bringing it to us."

The plant will sit where the vacant Michoud Power Station currently stands.

"It's time to break the cycle," said Dr. Wright. "The cycle of continuing to put dirty, nasty, polluting facilities in the neighborhood of minorities and poor people."

Officials said it's needed, but some disagree.

"The gas plant brings with it serious health issues and flooding risks for the people," said one participant.

"In the long-term, it also costs us our health," said resident Kevin Nguyen.

Like many at the meeting, Nguyen, a community spokesman, has issues with the proposal, especially when it comes to its estimated price tag.

"I think it's roughly $6 a customer for the next 20 years," Nguyen said. "But I'm not sure if that number will stay the same. The cost could go up."

There were no Entergy representatives present at the community-based meeting.

"It looks as though, Entergy wants a blank check for us New Orleans customers who struggle to pay the bills we have now," said Dr. Wright.

Residents said a lack of communication from Entergy representatives regarding the plan has left them with more questions than answers.

"If it doesn't benefit the people, who does it benefit?" asked one resident.

The plan's future is ultimately in the hands of City Council. Residents hope they too will say no.

"Take everything into consideration and make the best decision that benefits the taxpayer," said Nguyen. "We are the taxpayers here and we do have a voice."

Those in attendance encourage other residents to take action. They’re planning to attend a City Council Utility Regulatory Meeting to voice their opinions and concerns on the project. That meeting will be held at the City Council Chamber at City Hall, 1300 Perdido Street. It starts at 10 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 19.

A final vote is expected by the City Council this April.

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