NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on a proposed $5 million penalty for a utility company over the use of paid actors at public hearings to support a proposed gas-fired power plant (all times local):
A major utility company will learn next week whether the use of paid actors to gin up phony support for a new power plant will result in the project being derailed by New Orleans’ City Council.
Entergy New Orleans has agreed to a $5 million penalty in return for permission to forge ahead with plant construction.
Opponents of the plant say the fine and other elements of a proposed settlement aren’t enough. They want the council to withdraw permission for the plant and renew regulatory reviews in light of revelations that phony supporters showed up at public hearings on the plant.
Vehement opposition to the proposed settlement at a Thursday hearing led the council’s utility committee to defer a decision to the full council, which meets in one week.
The full New Orleans City Council will vote next week on a proposed $5 million penalty on a major utility company over the use of secretly paid actors at public hearings last year to support plans for a new gas-fired power plant.
A city council committee on Thursday discussed the payment as part of a settlement that would allow Entergy New Orleans to proceed with the project. That angered some among a crowd of about 200 attending the meeting. Protesters shouted that the payment wasn’t enough. And they want the power project scuttled over environmental concerns.
Entergy had hired a California public relations company, which hired the actors.
The settlement calls for the penalty payment to be used to help provide more reliable power for the city’s troubled street drainage and drinking water system.