NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Entergy New Orleans is suing the city council to fight a million-dollar fine — and it’s not the first time.
In a lawsuit filed Friday, ENO argues that new regulations passed by the city council earlier this year do not give the city the authority to retroactively penalize the company. This comes after a judge ruled that a 2019 penalty worth $1 million could not be imposed on Entergy as the city did not set the standard for what was worth penalizing.
In late 2019, the city council filed a resolution that would fine the energy company a total of $1 million for increasingly common power outages, namely from 2016 to 2017. According to a statement from the city council issued Monday, a city investigation also found that the outages “correlated with decisions [by Entergy] to pull millions of dollars out of its budgets for grid maintenance and improvement.”
That decision was followed by a subsequent lawsuit by Entergy that year, claiming that there were no standards that defined these violations, and the council did not specify prior what the penalties were for violators.
Last summer, almost three years later, a judge ruled in Entergy’s favor and remanded the matter back to the city council “for further consideration consistent with the [court’s] ruling.”
In the time since, the city council has moved forward with a series of new regulations that set the new rule for reliability standards. This is where the new lawsuit comes in.
Council leaders JP Morrell and Helena Moreno say that these new rules will not only allow them to fine Entergy for future issues, but also address past problems, and even retroactively levy the original fine imposed on the company in 2019.
However, Entergy argues that the council was precluded under the court’s ruling that prevented the city from penalizing the corporation for outages that occurred prior to the ruling’s start date, set for 2024. Entergy says the city has no power to penalize any actions prior to that start date.
In a statement following the lawsuit, council president JP Morrell says he isn’t shocked by Entergy’s actions.
“While Entergy’s decision to continue litigation caused by several years of poor reliability performance is disappointing, I cannot say that it is surprising based on the company’s previous actions,” Morrell said. “Ageing or poorly maintained equipment that allows a brisk breeze to cut off power for potentially hundreds of residents and businesses, literally leaving them in the dark, is unacceptable. At some point, Entergy New Orleans’ continued avoidance to do right by its ratepayers must end so that accountability may begin.”
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