Louisiana ranks 43rd in the nation on the 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), down three points from the previous year. This state scorecard serves as a benchmark for efforts on energy efficiency policies and programs each year.
Energy efficiency is an untapped resource of abundance in Louisiana, similar to oil and natural gas; it benefits residential and commercial consumers and creates economic investments and jobs. And unlike “fracking” or drilling, there’s little risk of catastrophic environmental damage or loss of human life.
So while BP, Transocean, and Halliburton sucker punch one another in a legal game of ‘not it’ over who’s to blame for the 2010 oil spill, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) led by commission chairman Eric Skrmetta, deals Louisiana taxpayers a low blow by voting to halt implementation of a previously approved statewide energy-efficiency program. Skrmetta further frustrated many residents by not allowing members of the public to speak at the meeting before voting.
Louisiana residents will not be silenced, and advocacy groups like the Alliance for Affordable Energy and the Sierra Club continue to be megaphones for public interests like energy efficiency and environmental conservation. Many New Orleans residents are speaking by way of action, taking advantage of a free energy efficiency program started in 2006 by the non-profit Green Light New Orleans. More than 18,000 households have decided to switch every light bulb in their homes to energy efficient ones as part of the program. Every month hundreds of additional households sign up to participate, and in traditional New Orleans fashion, most residents hear about the program through word-of-mouth.
Green Light New Orleans utilizes volunteers, local and across the country, to install the free energy efficient light bulbs for participating New Orleans residents. The nonprofit works to reduce energy costs for residents and lower the carbon footprint of New Orleans. 180 million pounds of CO2 have been offset by this program so far. To date, Green Light volunteers have installed over 400,000 energy efficient light bulbs helping residents conserve 150 million kWh of electricity and save $18 million on utility costs.
Louisiana taxpayers could reap similar benefits with a statewide energy efficiency program if the Louisiana Public Service Commission would only volunteer their support for energy efficiency as opposed to hush the voices for change.
If you would like to volunteer or learn more about Green Light New Orleans, visit GreenLight NewOrleans.org.
Photo above of volunteers from D'Youville College
Energy month is over at GOOD, but you can still challenge a neighbor to our energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Join the conversation at good.is/energy.