Advertiser’s Message: New Orleans’ Energy Future Up For Grabs

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This is a vital moment for New Orleans. Where our energy comes from will be decided in a 20 year plan that will lay out how to manage increasing energy costs, what kinds of investments should be made to meet demand, and if we are going to consider pollution as a real cost. Entergy has submitted their version of this plan and it is heavily biased towards their bottom line.  We have a different vision. The Alliance for Affordable Energy is a utility consumer watchdog nonprofit that advocates for ratepayers (that is anyone who pays an electric and gas bill). We want to see a plan that works for everyone, includes a 2% annual increase in energy efficiency, and investments in clean energy. If you share this vision, please come to a critically important public hearing scheduled for this Friday. Meeting starts at 1 pm in Council Chambers and is hosted by the Council Utility Committee’s office for the sole purpose of hearing from the public. Now is your chance to be heard.

We are very lucky to have our own energy regulatory body – the New Orleans City Council. They are in charge of the energy planning process that will result in this 20 year plan. This document is known as the Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP. The IRP will guide Entergy New Orleans to invest in energy sources which will make up our future mix, including gas, coal, nuclear, renewables, and energy efficiency as well as plans for building new power plants.

Why the IRP Matters

Where our power comes from has huge implications for the average residential ratepayer, local business, and our economy.  Currently the IRP that Entergy submitted is heavily focused on building expensive, new power plants which we will all pay for on our utility bills. In contrast, a smart, well designed IRP manages ratepayer costs by including energy efficiency and other demand side resources. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to meet our energy needs with the added benefit of boosting our local economy and creating local construction and renovation jobs. We can use our energy dollars to put locally employed insulators, installers, raters, and others to work for our community instead of towards expensive new power plants located outside of our community.

2% Annual Increase for Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency helps ratepayers save money while also helping to decrease overall energy demand. For example, a 100W incandescent light bulb costs $1.00 to run while a 25W CFL bulb will cost $0.25 and an LED bulb costs $0.10 for the same amount of light! This efficiency principle applies to our lighting, appliances, heating and cooling, and virtually all other systems that rely on electric power.

Utilities make money by selling power and therefore, are not motivated to help you cut down on your energy use. They also make a lot of profit with new construction. Regulators like the New Orleans City Council are elected by the people to represent the interests of ratepayers, which led to the successful and popular program Energy Smart. Energy Smart helps utility customers lower energy their bills without sacrificing modern lifestyles, comfort, or quality.

More energy efficiency programs are still needed. We are asking that the IRP increase investment in energy efficiency by 2% each year. Two percent does not sound like a lot but other jurisdictions that have implemented this type of investment are showing fantastic results.

More Clean, Renewable Power

Coal and other fossil fuel burning power plants not only pollute our air, our water, our fish, and our bodies, they are also expensive to build. In contrast, residential solar power costs are borne by the homeowner and there are no emissions to clean up after. Also, solar customers help lower everyone’s power bills. Solar panels produce energy when it’s sunny. That is also the time when it is hottest and everyone is cranking up their AC units. By offsetting workday peak power, Entergy is not forced into buying the most expensive power to meet our peak demand . The current IRP contains ZERO renewable power in the mix.

An IRP that commits to renewable energy goals through distributed generation, like solar, empowers ratepayers by putting power directly into our own hands, helps manage peak power costs for all ratepayers, and creates local jobs all while contributing our share to combating sea level rise and stronger storms due to climate change.

Please join us this Friday in sending this message to our City Council leaders and Entergy that we want an IRP that is in the best interest of ratepayers and our local economy, increases energy efficiency annually by 2%, and includes clean energy.

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