These days you can’t talk about Louisiana without talking about at least some of the destruction it’s seen as a result of Hurricane Katrina or the more recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But within that destruction there is also hope, and a lot of that hope lies in solar power. To help encourage more homes and businesses to adopt renewable energy and to help protect this coastal state from experiencing more of the devastation wrought by the hurricanes of 2005, the state is offering rebates and other incentives to make its citizens more energy independent.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, solar became a primary power source, since the grid was down and getting adequate fuel to run diesel emergency generators was nearly impossible. Now, as part of the rebuilding effort groups like Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International and neighborhood associations are rebuilding New Orleans homes with sustainability and solar in mind. Louisiana’s economy is largely a fossil fuel-based economy, but British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon fiasco in the summer of 2010 highlighted problems with continuing to rely on fossil fuels as an energy source.
Most of Louisiana gets more than 5 kilowatt hours of sunlight per square meter on a daily basis. That’s more than enough to justify a photovoltaic (PV) system, although the solar isn’t as rich as that hitting the Southwest. Still, Louisiana’s electric supply is dominated by natural gas power plants, which produce nearly one half of the state’s power. Coal-fired power plants produce another quarter of the state’s energy needs and two nuclear power plants provide an additional fifth of Louisiana’s energy needs. Per capita electricity use in the state is high. The state has hot, humid summers, residential use of air conditioners is high, and most homes use electric heaters in the winter.
Despite lacking a renewable portfolio standard like most other states, Louisiana has significant incentives to help residents adopt renewables. Most other states without renewable standards, like Arkansas, have fewer incentive programs. Among Louisiana’s renewable energy incentives are some pretty significant tax incentives, low-interest rate loans and net metering.