INSTITUTE INDEX: How Entergy thwarted energy resilience in Louisiana

Hurricane Laura knocked down these power lines in Louisiana last year, and this year's Hurricane Ida caused even more extensive damage to the state's highly centralized electrical grid, leading to widespread and prolonged outages that have been directly linked to deaths. Consumer advocates are urging elected officials to consider alternatives like distributed microgrids. (Photo by Western Area Power via Flickr.)

Rank of New Orleans among U.S. cities that have the most power under their charter to regulate energy providers: 1

Year in which, with the New Orleans City Council's approval, Entergy opened a $650 million fracked gas power plant in a majority-nonwhite New Orleans East neighborhood despite popular opposition, with the company arguing the plant would help keep the lights on after storms: 2020

Number of days after Hurricane Ida struck southwest of New Orleans last month that Entergy's new gas plant was shut down, with much of the city still in the dark for days even after the facility came back online: 2

Of the 11 Ida deaths reported in Louisiana this week, bringing the total up to at least 26, rank of "excessive heat during an extended power outage" among the listed causes: 1

In the March 2018 vote on Entergy's new gas plant, number of the New Orleans City Council's seven members who stood against it: 1

Portion of the same council that approved the plant who either worked for Entergy at some point or received campaign contributions from its political action committee: a majority

In 2019, fine New Orleans City Council imposed on Entergy for a subcontractor's use of paid actors to attend and speak at public hearings in support of the controversial gas plant and crowd out its opponents, though councilors still declined to halt the project: $5 million

Year in which Louisiana's Alliance for Affordable Energy, a nonprofit consumer watchdog group, offered council an alternative to Entergy's New Orleans East gas plant that called on the city to instead pursue distributed microgrids using combined heat and power and solar installations with battery backup, which the company opposed and council rejected: 2016

That same year, portion of the $144 million in federal funds New Orleans got to make itself more storm-resilient that was earmarked specifically for building community microgrids, which a U.S. Department of Energy study found offer critical "lifeline support" to essential services including gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies during disasters: about $5.75 million

Though DOE projected the funding could lead to several microgrids being built in New Orleans by summer 2018, the earliest the city is now saying construction could start: late 2021

Category of hurricanes that solar systems have been built and installed to withstand: 5

Rank of solar power among the cheapest sources of electricity in history, according to the International Energy Agency: 1

Rank of New Orleans among U.S. cities where low-income residents have the highest "energy burden," meaning the portion of income going to home energy bills: 2*

Since 2005, amount Entergy customers in Louisiana outside of New Orleans — some of whom have been told not to expect to have their power restored post-Ida until Sept. 29 — have been charged to rebuild transmission lines and replenish storm damage reserve funds: nearly $2 billion

Additional amount Entergy wants to cover costs from Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta last year: another $2 billion

Date on which the Alliance for Affordable Energy, pointing to what happened during Ida, called for a full audit and investigation of Entergy and what it called its "legacy of broken promises," an end to rate increases until the company is held accountable, and support for community-driven solutions and a more climate-resilient power system: 9/4/2021

Month in which another coalition, Energy Future New Orleans, urged this year's city council candidates to tackle the issue of regulating Entergy: 7/2021

Date on which EFNO has planned a city council candidates' forum to discuss creating more equitable energy policies for the people of New Orleans: 9/21/2021

* Only Memphis ranks higher. In third and fourth place, respectively, are Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta.

(Click on figure to go to source.)