We need the sub station and if Entergy does not pay, well we still need it. Sadly not for the 2023 hurricane season.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell is committed to building a new power substation for the Sewerage and Water Board whether or not Entergy New Orleans provides funding for the project, though it won’t be built in time for the 2023 hurricane season as originally envisioned. “We all need to acknowledge, just on the front end, this is not going to be a 2023 project,” said Cantrell administration spokesperson Beau Tidwell during a news conference Tuesday. The substation is seen as essential for providing a reliable power source for the S&WB’s drainage pumps. But the project’s financing has been thrown into doubt after Entergy New Orleans said Monday it has dropped its commitment to provide $30 million in upfront construction money. The $74 million project also relies on $22 million in city bond money and state construction financing. Council President Helena Moreno on Monday urged the administration to commit American Rescue Plan Act funds to make up Entergy’s portion, and to keep the project on schedule.nola.com
We will see about the American Rescue Plan money as there are designs for it already.
Tidwell tamped down both of those possibilities, though he said ARPA money will be considered. Tidwell said the administration is “absolutely committed” to proceeding with the substation, but that it wants to carefully consider its financing options. Tidwell said the administration doesn’t have a timeframe guiding the decision-making process, but that there is no way the station will be ready in time for 2023. That is harsh medicine for New Orleans residents looking ahead to at least two more hurricane seasons with a drainage system that lacks enough backup power. Two of SW&B’s four turbines were out of service as of early January, leaving the system with barely enough power to keep it running at full strength. During the press conference, Tidwell largely deferred on questions about the city’s recent spate of carjackings and other violent crimes. Both New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson and Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams have appeared at City Council hearings in recent days to address the issue. Tidwell said Cantrell will hold a news conference Thursday with Ferguson at NOPD headquarters.
Priorities and car jackings are more important today than the sub station. In the long term, however, it is the sub station than needs funding.