5:46 PM EDT, September 26, 2012
He wasn't shy about criticizing Entergy's response after Hurricane Isaac and now, Jefferson Parish President John Young is taking his outrage a step further. He's pushing to allow communities to essentially "fire" utility companies like Entergy. President Young says it's about more than just being hot. "This is not just about creature comfort although obviously a lot of that happened. We actually lost a gentleman in Marrero who died because of the heat when they failed to bring the power back quickly."
Young and U.S. Senator David Vitter are calling for new legislation that would allow jurisdictions to give the boot to a poorly performing utility company, by forcing the sale of utility assets. They say Entergy should have done a better job responding to the storm and maintaining its poles and lines in the first place. Young likens the move to shoring up levees after Katrina. "So this is akin to what happened after Katrina in improving our levee protection system. We now have to improve our power grid."
Municipalities already have the right to take over utilities. What this proposed legislation would do is allow parishes or groups of parishes to come together and get rid of their utilities as well. Senator Vitter explains, "New Orleans is a municipality so it has this power to buy Entergy New Orleans. Now, it doesn't have the power to coalesce with other jurisdictions, which our idea would give it. It doesn't have the power to replace Entergy with another private utility, which our idea would give it." Senator Vitter calls it competitive pressure.
You should not, however, expect to see 6 different power lines run by 6 different providers. If the legislation passes it would still be a natural monopoly system with only one provider per jurisdiction.
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