The three Entergy Corp. utility units in Louisiana will seek a combined $1.35 billion in federal funds to pay for damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita — money the company says is needed to avoid big rate increases for its customers.The federal funds Entergy is asking for will most likely come out of the CDBG funds, which would leave less for housing. If Entergy’s needs are to be met, as well as all other non-housing and infrastructure needs, then that $4.2 billion in community development block grants that’s bouncing around Congress right now is essential for the state to go through with its housing plans.
Without help, Entergy New Orleans has said rates will have to at least double in the city, stymieing economic recovery.
Here’s how Governor Blanco explained it in early March:
We fought hard for the additional 4.2 billion (dollars) in CDBG funding that allowed us to announce our housing plan. If our combined total of 12.1 billion (dollars) in housing and hazard mitigation that comes from FEMA is realized, I will invest it in four key areas: one -- the first area is 7.5 billion (dollars) to owner-occupied housing; the second is 1.75 billion (dollars) to affordable rental properties; the third is 2.5 billion (dollars) to infrastructure; and the fourth is 350 million (dollars) to economic development.Entergy’s request represents half of that infrastructure number. And notice the figure needed for the housing plan is more than what we have now at $6.2 billion in CDBG money.
The Mayor signed off on his plan to rebuild New Orleans last night. The “Failed Levee Homeowner Recovery Program” is part of that plan, which must be approved by the state. If the state is relying on the extra $4.2 billion to come through for its plan, we can assume that the Mayor’s plan relies on it, too.
Now that we’ve made all these plans, what happens if the $4.2 billion doesn’t go to Louisiana?