Energy

Energy use is responsible for approximately half of New Orleans’ greenhouse gas emissions. This causes air pollution, which is harmful to people's health and the environment. However, there is a big opportunity to reduce this pollution by becoming more energy efficient and using renewable energy sources. By doing this, we can make progress towards our goals to address climate change. 

To reduce our reliance on carbon-intensive fuels, save energy, and make our resources sustainable, we need to improve our energy, water, and sewer infrastructure. The City of New Orleans is taking action to reduce the overall amount of energy we use.  ORS is working to: 

  • Optimizing the operations of municipal buildings 
  • Providing training on energy management for commercial and multi-family properties 
  • Supporting the installation of solar panels on single-family homes through the "Solar for All" campaign 
  • Developing the City’s first community solar project - Agriculture Street Solar Farm

By making buildings and homes more energy-efficient, we can also improve air quality and people's health which leads to better respiratory health for those who suffer from asthma and allergies and improved quality of life. Energy efficiency also reduces energy utility bills and helps reduce levels of energy burden. Mayor Cantrell has made energy equity a priority and encourages homeowners and small businesses to take advantage of the City's Energy Smart program, which provides free energy efficiency evaluations, as well as other financial incentives for energy efficient homes and businesses. 

Learn more about our current programs:

Agriculture Street Solar Farm Building Performance

Standards  Downtown Energy Challenge  Solar for All

C-LEAP 

In 2022, New Orleans was selected as one of 22 communities nationwide to receive support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP). This “first-of-its-kind” initiative is designed to help energy-overburdened communities take direct control of their clean energy future.  

Based on a competitive application process, Communities LEAP has helped the City further develop climate action strategies to develop distributed solar generation with battery storage and district-scale microgrids. 

By receiving targeted technical assistance, C-LEAP has provided the City of New Orleans access to additional DOE and other federal government programs, including Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act funding. Participating in C-LEAP not only reinforces the Cantrell Administration’s Climate Action Plan but also ensures that New Orleans meets its C40 Cities climate leadership commitments to community-led development and delivering bold climate action that benefits all residents equitably. 

To read more about C-LEAP in New Orleans, read the final report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) here: https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy24osti/88242.pdf

Solar Power and Energy Resilience 

Community Solar 

In 2019, the New Orleans City Council established rules for a community solar program, making solar accessible to renters and others who may not have a suitable rooftop of their own. Community solar provides the opportunity for people to subscribe to solar projects up to the amount of energy they currently buy from Entergy and get credited on their bill. The City Council and community groups recently revised some of the community solar rules to make projects more economically feasible for developers and future program susbscribers. The updated rules provide subscribers a 1-1 credit on their energy bill with an added two cents per kilowatt generated by solar on bills for low-income subscribers. Along with that, all community solar projects must set aside 40% of all available subscriptions to households at or below 80% of the area median income. This program supports the call by the Climate Action Equity Working Group to help residents to reduce the cost of electric bills while also providing them access to renewable energy. 

Resilience Hubs 

As extreme weather events become more frequent, the need to strengthen our energy and water infrastructure becomes increasingly more essential. Hurricane Ida, which rendered most of the City without power for over a week and caused several heat-related deaths, made clear the need to invest in grid resilience, including microgrids, which are small networks of electricity users with a local source of supply that is often connected to the grid, but can also operate independently – such as a home or building with solar panels and battery power storage systems. In 2022, the City was awarded technical assistance as a part of the Department of Energy’s Communities-LEAP program to study potential microgrid locations, building off a previous DOE study completed in 2019. The City intends to pilot a microgrid at one of the sites identified by this process by 2025. In addition, the City has committed funds to Together New Orleans’ Community Lighthouse project, which will create 16 solar and battery-powered resilience hubs at churches and community centers across the City. Community groups such as the Get Lit, Stay Lit initiative, led by the Feed the Second Line group, are also working to install solar and battery systems at local restaurants to create additional resilience hubs as well as reduce the amount of food waste from extended outages and the City is actively exploring ways to partner with this initiative to increase its impact.