Sierra Club Report Exposes ‘Dirty Truth’ about Electric Utilities’ Climate Pledges: Entergy New Orleans and Entergy Louisiana Receive Worst Ratings in State
The Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges
Report by Sierra Club, John Romankiewicz, Cara Bottorff, Leah C. Stokes
January 25, 2021
NEW ORLEANS, LA -- The Sierra Club released a groundbreaking report and research tool today that grades utilities based on their plans to retire coal plants, stop building new gas plants, and invest in clean energy. The tool gives the public the power to judge each utility’s climate progress based on its stated carbon reduction goals and how that compares to what science actually demands. Sierra Club will update the scores in this analysis on a regular basis.
“Entergy New Orleans and Entergy Louisiana each received the worst possible grade because the utilities plan to invest in new fracked gas power plants while making very little investments in proven and affordable options like energy efficiency, wind, and solar power,” said Dave Stets, Delta Chapter Chair from New Orleans. “Utilities could save $1.1 billion annually if Louisiana’s remaining coal plants retire by 2030 and replaced with energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
In addition to The Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges report, Sierra Club also launched an interactive website which allows members of the public to look up their utility’s grade, its coal plant retirement schedule (if one exists), its planned gas plant capacity, and its investments in clean energy. SWEPCO leads large Louisiana utilities with a letter grade of “B” while Cleco received a “D”. Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans each received a letter grade of “F”. The Entergy scores in Louisiana lag far behind Entergy Arkansas “C” and Entergy Mississippi “B-”.
The website also includes a national map to help users look up their service area and a digital dashboard for researchers, energy analysts, and media partners to keep track of each utility’s progress over the next decade.
“SWEPCO’s commitment to retiring the Dolet Hills coal plant plus its investments in wind and solar, which will save customers money while creating clean energy jobs, is why the utility ranks eleventh out of fifty utilities graded in the report,” added Mr. Stets. “SWEPCO could be among the top leaders in the country transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy if it would reconsider the continued operation of the aging Flint Creek coal plant in Arkansas.”
The report and dashboard sources its information from utilities’ long-term energy plan -- known as an Integrated Resource Plan (IRPs) -- the Energy Information Administration, S&P Global Market Intelligence, and major announcements from the 50 utilities that generate the most electricity from coal and gas. Those 50 worst offenders include investor-owned utilities, power authorities (like the Tennessee Valley Authority), generation and transmission co-ops, and large municipal utilities. In total, it examines plans for 79 operating companies owned by 50 unique parent companies.
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Cover Photo: Frances Denny for The Luupe