Image by Oimheidi from Pixabay

Entergy has 30 years to both power the city and keep the air clean. This is the mandate passed down by the City Council.

The rules passed by the council’s utility committee — which still need to be adopted by the full council — would see Entergy move to 100% emissions-free power generation by 2050, and achieve 90% emissions-free power by 2040. The mandate places New Orleans in a growing class of cities and states that are adopting renewable energy mandates. Council officials said it was one of the fastest targets in the country. “This is the catalyst for New Orleans’ transition away from fossil fueled power generation and towards a clean and resilient future,” said council member-at-large Helena Moreno, who leads the committee. “New Orleans is on the front line of climate risk, as we recently saw with the storms we had. The coast, the economy and our future depend on our bold action.”

And us, the users? We will pay no more than a 1% yearly increase as Entergy goes green.

Ratepayers would pay no more than a 1% increase on customer bills per year as Entergy implements new technology, which ensures customers are not burdened by higher bills as Entergy goes green, Moreno said. Entergy would also not be allowed to rely heavily on renewable energy credits to meet its mandate. Those credits, each of which represents one megawatt hour of power generated by a renewable energy source, may be purchased by utilities and counted toward renewable mandates even when utilities aren’t providing the renewable power themselves. Any number of technologies could be used to help Entergy meet the requirement, including wind, solar, nuclear power, or energy efficiency programs. Those programs would be phased in over time, with most new power being created after 2032.

There are mandated goals and Entergy can be fined if they are not met. The money would go into the “Clean NOLA Fund” which supports local renewable energy projects.

At present, 56% of Entergy’s grid is powered by natural gas, 34% comes from nuclear power, 9% is comprised of power purchased from an regional electricity grid manager, and the rest from renewable resources. The company’s carbon emission rate is 50% below the national average. An Entergy spokesperson called the council’s vote a key step toward an future of clean energy for the city. “We are eager to work with the council on this initiative and believe that the renewable and clean portfolio standard balances environmental responsibility and affordability,” Lee Sabatini said. “The balancing of these interests are critical in any decision Entergy New Orleans makes to keep the needs of all customers in mind.” Entergy will meet the mandate over time by adding 240 megawatts of new solar resources, using its 420 megawatts of nuclear power, and taking other steps, she said.

The vote in New Orleans is one of over two dozen nationally as cities strive to be carbon free. California, Arizona, and Connecticut are some of the states where these efforts have been passed. Gov Edwards has established a task force to make recommendations and if more Louisiana cities go carbon free then the state may be forced that way. These actions are to counter the changes in the natural order caused by climate change. The hope is that these changes will reduce the annual increases in temperature now projected to 2 degrees. The goal is to reduce the annual increases to 1.5 degrees. Power generation causes a third of all increases and so this is a target that will do some good.

They first began a push two years ago to create the standard, and invited their consulting team, advocates and organizations to weigh in with suggestions. While the final version of those rules must be considered by the full council at a future meeting, approval is almost certain. Residents and advocates called the standard a positive step toward removing pollutants, though some urged the council to go farther and to ban Entergy from using nuclear power, which can generate waste. “With all of our power plants coming to the end of their useful life, please, please, please replace them with renewable options,” said Bernard Guste, a member of the Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association.

We have 30 years and time is getting short. This is a start and if Entergy takes the challenge we all will win.

NOLA Carbon Free 2050
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