Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell urges state to respond to climate change. Louisiana is now recognizing that it is vulnerable to rising seas and damaging storms.
We are an energy state, not just an oil and gas state. We have a task force studying climate change and promoting offshore wind. Our coastal industries are helping to build a wind-power sector. Utilities are investing in renewables.
We can fight climate change, develop new industries and jobs, and watch our state prosper. It is not too late.
City Council races must tackle issue of regulating Entergy By Monique Harden, Jesse George & Brent Newman
Article by Monique Harden, Jesse George & Brent Newman
Originally Published on The Lens
July 22, 2021
Too often, candidates seeking the office of City Council do not talk about the extraordinary power of regulating Entergy, our city’s electric power utility. No other elected city government in the United States has the power of our City Council to regulate an investor-owned utility company.
According to data kept by the US Department of Energy, more than half of New Orleans residents pay a high energy cost burden that’s as much as 28 percent of monthly income.
In the upcoming year, councilmembers will choose whether to address a broad set of energy needs. The next slate of elected council members will have to tackle critical issues on Entergy’s costs and services as well as opportunities for more residents to benefit from renewable energy and electrification.
The New Orleans City Council has an extraordinary power -- the regulation of Entergy as an investor-owned utility company. Though the Council has a designated Utility, Cable, Telecommunications and Technology Committee (“UCTTC”) consisting of five members, major regulatory decisions are brought to the full Council for voting. Thus, all New Orleans City Council members are both legislators and regulators of a major electric and gas utility.
For years, the Energy Future New Orleans Coalition has advocated for strong regulatory oversight of Entergy in order to lower costs to ratepayers, increase the reliability of electric service in New Orleans, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are the cause of the changing climate threatening the future of our city.
We have prepared this simple informational sheet to highlight some of the regulatory issues currently pending before the Council:
Calls for New Rules Limiting The Council's Ability to Accept Campaign Contributions from the Utilities They Regulate
By Jesse George, New Orleans Policy Director, AAE
On June 25, 2021, the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition sent a letter addressed to the New Orleans Ethics Review Board and copied to the entire City Council, calling for an amendment to the Code of Ethics prohibiting City Council candidates and incumbents from accepting campaign contributions from Entergy, the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, and other regulated utilities, as well as from their executives and political action committees. The letter further calls for a ban on campaign contributions from persons or firms that contract to provide services to the Council, such as the Council’s utility advisors. Finally, the letter calls for disclosure by candidates seeking the office of City Council of any financial or other compensation received from regulated entities or contractors within the past five years, or any board service rendered to the same at any time.
By Jesse George, New Orleans Policy Director
These comments were given at the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources hearing concerning LDNR Class IV-Well Primacy Application to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Louisiana is a tragic case. Our state is addicted to fossil fuels, and like many addicts, instead of seeking to break our addiction, we seek ways to become functional addicts. The pipedream of carbon capture and sequestration is a prime example of this.
By Emily Sandstrom, AAE Intern
In June the Alliance gave public comment to the Louisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force (CITF) following a presentation on some hypothetical pathways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Louisiana.
If all permitted and permit pending facilities in Louisiana listed are built, it would add 125 Million Metric Tons Per Year CO2e.
*CO2e = Carbon Dioxide Equivalent, which includes emissions from other greenhouse gasses like methane, weighted according to their impact.
The CF Industries fertilizer plant in Donaldsonville, pictured here, is currently Louisiana’s largest emitter of CO2e. Photo credit.
Exxon Mobil claims that it supports the goals in the Paris climate agreement and is committed to addressing climate change. However, Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy was caught on video describing the company's efforts to undermine President Biden's climate and infrastructure proposals.
Article originally published on The Goldman Environmental Prize website
Shoutout to Sharon Levigne of Rise St. James, who has won the Goldman Prize for 2021! We're honored and excited to have worked alongside Sharon for years advocating for local Louisiana communities. The work is not done. With your help we look forward to being a part of the continued push to advance environmental justice in the South.
Read more to learn about the amazing success Sharon has had mobilizing grassroots opposition to the $1.25 billion plastics manufacturing plant that was set to be constructed alongside the Mississippi River in St. James Parish, Louisiana.
City Council will decide on consulting contracts for advice on Entergy. For decades, the Utility, Cable, Telecommunications and Technology Committee of the New Orleans City Council has relied on a handful of primarily out-of-state contractors to provide technical advice and counsel on regulatory matters involving Entergy New Orleans. Different iterations of the Council have come and gone, yet the same familiar personalities have occupied the seats reserved for these contractors at committee and Council meetings.
At an annual sum of nearly $7M, the contracts of the Council’s utility advisors are the most lucrative that it awards. The firms that currently hold these contracts -- including Washington, D.C.-based law firm Dentons and Denver-based technical advisory firm Legend Consulting Group -- have done so for almost four decades, while New Orleans continues to battle high bills and unreliable service. Ideally, the utility advisors would lend a critical eye on the utility’s filings before the Council, but in recent years the advisors have supported Entergy’s unpopular and costly decisions, such as the construction of the gas plant in New Orleans East, which will cost New Orleanians upwards of $650 Million over 30 years. Meanwhile, advisors are free to contribute to the political campaigns of hopeful Council candidates, while their expenses are paid for by New Orleans ratepayers.
The advisor’s current contracts expire at the end of 2021 and will be opened for a Request for Qualifications this year, as they are every five years.
From February 14th - 18th, 2021, Louisiana and Texas experienced extremely cold temperatures, relatively unusual for the region. Referred to as Winter Storm Uri, or most recently as The February Arctic Event, the freezing cold temperatures pushed our electric infrastructure to the brink of mass failure. Electric generating units failed due to the freeze, ice-covered tree branches took down power lines, gas supply could not meet demand, because of the nature of gas used in the region, the pipelines themselves could not withstand the temperatures, and the demand for energy to heat our homes was at an all time high. This created a Maximum Generation (or Max Gen) event within our electric market, MISO, and did lead to rolling blackouts for Louisianans.
Now that that extreme weather has passed, and Louisiana was spared the worst of it, our utility regulators want answers. Simple ‘supply and demand’ principles mean that that Max Gen event is going to come with a hefty price tag, but for who and when? The high fuel costs, recovered through the Fuel Adjustment Clause (FAC) will likely be spread out over 6-12 months, while costs associated with damaged power plants and transmission & distribution lines can be securitized with long-term bonds.
The New Orleans City Council, which has regulatory authority over Entergy New Orleans (“ENO”), has opened a docket (UD-21-01) in order to conduct a prudence investigation of ENO’s decision-making during the winter storm.
Yes, the puns are endless, but AMPs can be a lifeline to help folks get back on track. An Arrearage Management Program (AMP) is a program that helps you pay past due utility bills, packaged with energy efficiency and bill forgiveness, and we’re working to bring it to Louisiana!
Here’s the general idea. Say a customer has accrued $1,000 in electric bills over the past year. Given the record number of job losses and extreme weather, this isn’t unusual. The customer is getting back on their feet, just as our hot summer months are quickly approaching. Maybe they can keep up with current utility bills, but just can’t get over the hump to clear the past due amounts. Here’s where an AMP comes into play.
A well crafted AMP will allow for a customer with a past due balance to enroll in a payment plan, say they pay $25 extra a month to cover their past due balance. At the same time, they get an energy efficiency audit to see what programs may be available for them to lower their energy usage (and bills!) without sacrificing indoor comfort. Said customer can now stay current on their bills while continuing to pay towards the past due amount. Following a certain amount of time, a year for example, of staying current on monthly bills and the payment plan, the remaining past due balances are forgiven.
Confronting the myth of carbon-free fossil fuels: Why carbon capture is not a climate solution by Dana Drugmand & Carroll Muffett
Article by Dana Drugmand (CIEL) and Carroll Muffett (CIEL)
Originally published by Environmental Working Group (EWG)
April 22, 2021
Carbon capture and storage technologies are not only unnecessary to the rapid transformation required to keep warming under 1.5 degrees centigrade, they also delay that transformation, providing the fossil fuel industry with a license to continue polluting.
Fifth in a series.
New Orleans City Council Utility Chair Moreno urges action on regional grid as key to clean energy path
Shortly after the New Orleans City Council passed standards requiring 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050 and 90 percent within two decades, Council President Helena Moreno followed up with an immediate action to help pave the way for the city to succeed on its policy mandate.
In a May 24, 2021 letter to Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) CEO John Bear, Moreno underscored the importance of long-range transmission planning at MISO needed for “upgrading and expanding the wholesale transmission system to increase the access to low-cost, renewable energy resources.”
Today the full New Orleans City Council unanimously voted to adopt R-21-182, establishing a Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standard (RCPS) for the city of New Orleans.
After over two years of work on a policy to get polluting and fossil fuels out of New Orleans’ energy mix, thanks to petitions, symposia, community meetings, online town halls, and your input, the New Orleans Council has voted to approve the first Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standard in the Gulf South. Today New Orleans joined the now 32 states and three US territories that have established renewable energy mandates.
By Stephen Wright, Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association
When two million people suffer power outages like we saw across our region last month, no stone should be left unturned in assessing what happened--and what needs to change.
CIEL Supports the UN's Statement Denouncing Environmental Racism in Cancer Alley, and Calling for an End to Petrochemical Expansion
Originally published on Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, human rights experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council released a statement raising “serious concerns” about further industrialization of Cancer Alley in Louisiana, saying that the “development of petrochemical complexes is a form of environmental racism.” The statement comes after years of campaigning by Louisiana residents and the submission of a letter led by Loyola law students to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance late last year.
As we've reported in the past, in 2020 Louisiana's Governor kicked off a Climate Initiatives Task Force along with clear goals for reducing emissions to "net zero" across Louisiana over the coming three decades. The 23 full Task Force members represent the decision-making body; their work is divided across 6 Committees and 4 Advisory Groups, each composed of both task force members and additional relevant expertise. A full list of all Task Force Committee, and Advisory group members can be found here.
Much of the Task Force represents the interests of the "incumbent" power: oil and gas trade groups, manufacturing and business interests, and utilities, while a smaller portion of members represent environmental justice advocates, clean energy experts, and equity-focused allies. In order to ensure the work of this Task Force and climate efforts to come are informed by real Louisianans, we are working with organizations across the state to support public input and engagement. We know that climate action must be equitable, otherwise we will only double down on Louisiana's social and environmental injustices.
The Alliance is part of the region-wide people-powered effort called "Gulf South for A Green New Deal", which is a collaborative of grassroots organizations across the five states across the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana's efforts are focusing on the Climate Task Force, and also improving fair housing and the development of renewable energy across the state.
Over the next year, we are meeting regularly with anyone who is interested in building a people-centered set of recommendations to the task force and various agencies. Join us won't you!?
Let us know if you want in.
Our infrastructure was not designed for the new world we face.
In six months we’ve seen two black swan weather events cause an energy crisis. As we reckon with the systems engineering impact of extreme weather, energy resilience will undoubtedly emerge as an essential underpinning of our future grid.
The first of these events was in August of 2020. A multi-state heat wave led to blackouts in California when the power system operator couldn’t secure adequate generation to meet immense air conditioning loads.
The second event is happening as we speak. A massive winter storm is delivering crushingly low temperatures across much of the US. Texas, most of which currently does not have power, is being hit the hardest, not necessarily in absolute temperature, but relative to their typical winters.
Lawmakers and the Murdoch media target wind and solar but grid operator says fossil fuel generators suffered biggest problems
The Wall Street Journal said in an editorial that “the power grid is becoming less reliable due to growing reliance on wind and solar, which can’t provide power 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.
While some wind turbines did freeze, failures in natural gas, coal and nuclear energy systems were responsible for nearly twice as many outages as renewables, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot), which operates the state’s power grid, said in a press conference on Tuesday.