Energy Efficiency Collaboration in New Orleans

Group photo copyBy Joylynn Moore

Last Friday’s Quarterly Impact Economy Forum had a great turnout with over 70 individuals from the green and business communities coming together to learn more about the future of energy efficiency in LA. LifeCity’s Impact Economy Forums bring together leaders of local government, business, and non-profit organizations to discuss developments and timely issues affecting the Impact Economy in New Orleans.

The Forum kicked-off with Keynote Speaker Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, who spoke on the tremendous strides New Orleans has taken to move forward in energy efficiency. As Chairman of the Utility Committee, CM Hedge-Morrell was able to speak to the development of the Energy Smart program and its tremendous success. When the City Council first launched the Energy Smart program in 2011, there had been programs initiated in other cities that did not have traction the City Council was hoping to achieve with Energy Smart. “The key that brought us to where we are today was in educating people on how to use the devices they were given,” explains CM Hedge-Morrell. “Instead of simply mailing the instructions, actual centers for people to get information were soon in place followed by a way for people to come out and talk to you if you didn’t understand the information.”

Since its launch, the program has helped more than 17,000 households and businesses save money and increase their customer-base as a result of energy efficiency improvements. Last year alone, Energy Smart saved 20 million kilowatt hours, which was 25% above target and 6% below budget. “We are like the trailblazers,” Hedge-Morrell concluded. “We’re going where nobody has gone before. I think in five years we will really be in the settling stage, which puts us so far above the curve. You have these meetings, you share ideas, know what each other are doing and unify behind a common goal. It takes vision, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice.”

Around the time Energy Smart was being set in motion, NOLA Wise was also being launched. Another Guest Speaker, Councilmember Susan Guidry, admits she had her doubts about the two energy efficiency programs being successful while pursuing similar goals under different organizations. However, instead of causing confusion, the two programs, very much alike, ended up collaborating and combining resources to create a much more successful result.

NOLA Wise accomplishments from December 2011 to June of this year include: 129 retrofits, 230 energy audits, 16 loans, over 200 outreach events, and 500 houses canvased. Their efforts resulted in an average of 24% energy savings per home, translating into $650 dollars per household saved and a cumulative savings of 526,000 kilowatt hours.  

“Our collaborative group was aware that the programs had an end date and we did not want them to come to an end,” said CM Guidry. “We found a way to extend the NOLA Wise program and merge it with Energy Smart to continue the work of these programs and make them even better, while we worked towards them becoming an integral part of New Orleans’s first integrated resource plan.” The coordination and collaboration between these programs, local government, and utilities has brought more resources to New Orleans for a brighter and more energy efficient future. Guidry closed her speech by thanking everyone who had helped in achieving the programs’ goals. “The people who really made it a success were the people who worked there every day. You have been a huge part of creating a milestone for New Orleans.”

The Forum was concluded with the presentation of Energy Pro3 Awards by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA). Director of Business Development of SEEA, Eileen Nebhut, presented these awards as recognition for New Orleans leaders’ efforts to bring economic prosperity back to the City through energy efficiency.

The following individuals and entities were presented with awards:

See more pictures from the event on our Facebook page.

Forest Bradley-Wright of the Alliance for Affordable Energy introduced CM Hedge-Morrell.

Forest Bradley-Wright of the Alliance for Affordable Energy introduced CM Hedge-Morrell.

CM Hedge-Morrell and CM Guidry accepting the Energy Pro3 Award on behalf of the City's Utility Committee

CM Hedge-Morrell and CM Guidry accepting the Energy Pro3 Award on behalf of the City’s Utility Committee

Seminar attendees enjoyed lunch by Liberty's Kitchen.

Seminar attendees enjoyed lunch by Liberty’s Kitchen.