Energy efficiency is still largely an untapped energy resource that could save Louisianans’ money on their utility bills, create local jobs, and increases the competitiveness of the state’s businesses, according to research by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
A set of new or expanded energy efficiency policies and programs could save customers $4.2 billion in lower energy costs and support 27,100 jobs within the state by 2030 according to two reports by the ACEEE titled New Orleans’ Efficient Path to 2030: Leadership to Save Energy, Lower Bills, and Create Jobs and Louisiana’s 2030 Energy Efficiency Roadmap: Saving Energy, Lowering Bills, and Creating Jobs.
While Louisiana has taken steps to cut down on energy waste, progress has been “fitful” in recent months, according to ACEEE. In December 2012, the Louisiana Public Service Commission took steps towards helping residents and business lower their power bills by approving utility energy efficiency programs, only to later suspend the rules in February – a move that led to the PSC getting sued. The PSC now plans to revisit the issue in June, the ACEEE says.
The New Orleans City Council is currently considering expanding customer access to energy efficiency services through its Energy Smart programs in partnership with Entergy New Orleans, the city’s energy utility. The reports find that while New Orleans is leading the state on energy efficiency programs, existing policies are still not capturing the full economic benefits from energy efficiency such as lower utility bills and job creation. A comprehensive suite of energy efficiency policies and programs could net New Orleans nearly $450 million in energy bill savings and support 1,500 full-time jobs by 2030, the report on New Orleans says.
The ACEEE says that its reports are the first to quantify the economic benefits that energy efficiency can deliver to all of Louisiana and New Orleans.
Other states in the region are also beginning to increase their efforts to help cut energy waste. Arkansas is a leader with the passage of an energy efficiency resource standard in 2010. Recently Mississippi passed four landmark energy efficiency bills as part of a comprehensive energy development strategy. ACEEE’s 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which scores states on their efforts to encourage energy efficiency, ranked Louisiana 43rd.