February 25, 2021 10:00 AM
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NEW ORLEANS - During today’s regular meeting, the New Orleans City Council voted to elect Councilmember-At-Large Donna Glapion as its Vice President, approved two funding matters relative to the rehabilitation of the Southern Pacific 745 locomotive, authorized permanent voting relocations for several precincts, directed the City Planning Commission (CPC) to review Inclusionary Zoning policies, and initiated an investigation into Entergy's load shed protocols.
Entergy Investigation to Review Load Shed Protocols
The Council has formally launched an investigation into Entergy's load shed protocols and response during last week's winter storm event. During the Joint Utilities and Public Works Committee meeting on February 24, Entergy revealed that more than 25,000 customers were shut off during the recent Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) ordered blackout, totaling nearly 81MW of load when only 26MW was required.
Entergy did not issue information about the outages to the public until 8:54 PM. At 9:39 PM on Tuesday, February 16, MISO advised that the Maximum Generation Event had ended, and at 10:11 PM, Entergy informed the Council that 17,600 customers had lost power as a result of the event. During and immediately after the outages, customers began to question how areas were selected for the outage and why they were neither forewarned of the outages nor informed how long the outages were expected to last.
At the joint committee meeting, Entergy representatives described their annual system to review the Load Shed Plan, including the designation of feeders to specific categories to identify those feeders which would produce “the least amount of risk to public safety and health if it is included in the shedding event,” admitting that a Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) feeder had been miscategorized leading to ENO power being cut to drinking water intake and chemical injection pumps.
As a result of these revelations, the Council adopted Resolution R-21-87, directing the Council’s Utility Advisors to begin a forensic investigation into Entergy and its response to the load shed event.
“New Orleanians must have answers as to why almost three times as customers were blacked out on a historically cold night than were necessary. This news shocked me and my colleagues, and I plan to immediately order an independent investigation of Entergy New Orleans’ actions that night by our in-house regulatory office and advisors. New Orleanians shouldered an unnecessary amount of sacrifice that cold night, and we need to know why so it never happens again,” said City Council President Helena Moreno.
Council Seeks Funding to Restore Southern Pacific 745
The Council adopted two resolutions (R-21-74 & R-21-75) endorsing LASTA and encouraging the Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation and the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust to provide funding to rehabilitate and restore Louisiana's last surviving steam locomotive, Southern Pacific 745 (SP 745). During its tenure from 1921 to 1956, SP 745 transported freight, commercial passengers and World War I soldiers throughout the region.
In 1984, a group of railroad enthusiasts removed the locomotive from City Park, where it had been displayed since its retirement in the hopes of eventual restoration. After thousands of hours of volunteer labor, private donations and public grants, SP 745 (christened the “Spirit of Louisiana”) became operational once again, conducting its first main-line operations in 48 years. Federal law mandates that SP 745 be disassembled and rebuilt every 15 years, so the Council has called upon these two local groups to provide the necessary resources, which will be used for new boiler flues, superheater loops, and more.
Once complete, this restoration will allow SP 745 to continue its 100-year legacy, improve our local transportation system, educate the public and attract tourism to the region.
Photo of SP 745 courtesy of the Louisiana Steam Train Association
Permanent Relocation of Polling Places
The Council passed two motions (M-21-71 & M-21-72) to permanently relocate the official polling places for the following ward/precincts:
Council Asks CPC to Review Inclusionary Zoning Standards
The Council passed Motion M-21-82 directing the CPC to conduct a public hearing to consider amending the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) to ensure Inclusionary Zoning requirements are aligned with previously adopted legislation and provide all applicable processes and standards, including:
- Providing parking reduction standards in Article 28,
- Amending or creating definitions for the inclusionary zoning voluntary provisions,
- Aligning tables in Article 5 with the respective base zoning use tables of Articles 9-17, and
- Determining and amending any other inconsistencies as determined by CPC staff.
With its approval of M-21-82, the Council grants the CPC flexibility to make all appropriate changes to both the proposed regulations and any existing corresponding regulations in the CZO in order to establish consistency and continuity with the existing code format.
Chief of Staff
New Orleans City Council