Acadiana Business

Coal vs. Alternatives

by Patrick Flanagan

A public forum Thursday will address the future of powering Lafayette, which will require a new plan going forward, says one of the event's organizers, who points to the fact that 60 percent of the area's electricity comes from an aging coal-fired plant.

The second in a series of public forums will be held Thursday night to discuss alternatives to an $88 million bond issue being considered by the Lafayette City-Parish Council to overhaul the aging Rodemacher 2 coal plant.

"We're asking if this is a wise investment given that so many other places around the country are moving away from coal-fired power generation," says Haywood Martin of the Sierra Club Acadian Group.

The first forum, held Sept. 12, featured Terry Huval, LUS utilities director, who presented reasons why Lafayette's existing coal and natural gas plants will likely continue being the primary electricity sources for the area.

"We saw that as only one side of the story," says Martin. "Terry (Huval) indicated LUS had never seriously considered renewable energy such as wind or solar, and was giving no thought to energy efficiency programs as a way to meet part of the anticipated future demand. So we want to talk publicly about other options and hopefully build a public consensus for cleaner energy for Lafayette."

Thursday's forum is being co-hosted by the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters of Lafayette, and will feature a presentation by Simon Mahan, a renewable energy manager with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Martin says Mahan's presentation will include a possible plan for meeting all Lafayette's future energy demands through a "combination" of alternative methods.

"What we are asking for is a City Parish sanctioned citizen study group to do detailed evaluation of the options that are available for powering Lafayette's electrical future," adds Martin. "We have had success with citizen study groups in the past and we can do it again."

The forum is scheduled from 6:30-8 p.m., and will be held inside the Lafayette South Regional Library at 6101 Johnston St.