New Orleans is on the move

Blog Post | December 22, 2015 - 5:36 pm
By Ariel Drehobl, Senior Research Analyst, Local Policy

This holiday season, New Orleans residents have cause for celebration as they receive an unexpected holiday gift: a new focus on energy efficiency savings.

Cities are responsible for the majority of energy consumption, and local governments can play a critical role in addressing energy and environmental challenges. So, cities have a real opportunity to lead by pushing for ambitious policies to reduce energy waste in their own backyard. New Orleans’ city council did just that with some recent legislation.

On December 10, the New Orleans City Council called on Entergy New Orleans, the utility serving the city, to ramp up its savings each year to reach a 2% yearly energy savings goal. The resulting resolution was passed with the help of many partner organizations in the region. Resolution No. R-15-599 encourages Entergy New Orleans to ramp up energy efficiency savings from the Energy Smart program, which sends a strong signal about the importance of energy efficiency for New Orleans’ future. These savings will help the city increase its resiliency, energy affordability, human and environmental health, and many other multiple benefits.

An achievable goal

In 2013, ACEEE met with local stakeholders in New Orleans and prepared an energy efficiency potential study and policy guide. The final report, New Orleans’ Efficient Path to 2030, made several policy recommendations, including that the city ramp up its annual savings target to 2% for years after 2020. Several utilities have achieved electric savings levels in excess of 2% of total sales, including National Grid Rhode Island, which saved more than 3% in 2014. While the New Orleans goal is challenging and ambitious, other utilities have recently demonstrated that 2% savings is realistic and achievable. ACEEE will release a report next year discussing utilities that have achieved high levels of energy savings and exploring the potential drivers of those successes.

Moving Up in the South

The Southeast historically has not invested heavily in energy efficiency, but many states and cities in the region are on the move. From 2011 to 2014, southern states made large strides toward energy efficiency, some even being highlighted as “most improved” in the State Scorecard, including Mississippi, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. In the 2015 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, many southern cities—including Atlanta, Charlotte, and Jacksonville—greatly improved their 2013 scores through stronger energy efficiency policies. New Orleans and Louisiana ranked towards the bottom in the 2015 Scorecard and 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, but like its peers in the region, New Orleans is on the move. The city council’s vocal commitment to energy savings adds to the upward momentum in the region.

By directing Entergy New Orleans to achieve 2% electricity savings, the New Orleans City Council is pushing the city toward becoming a stronger leader in the South. Entergy New Orleans will have the opportunity to begin implementing the city council’s goal in the new year, and we hope that other cities will follow suit as they plan for a more energy-efficient future.