A decade ago, thousands of homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath, and Louisiana committed to rebuilding green. Since Hurricane Katrina, the state has supported pro-solar policies, offering significant incentives to individuals and businesses. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 reinforced the state’s desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. As a result, the amount of solar has significantly increased in the last five years.
However, as the aftermath of these two disasters have waned, political fighting has placed favorable solar policy in jeopardy. Concerns about the state’s budget and its reliance on the fossil fuel economy has caused some politicians, including Governor Bobby Jindal, to oppose solar incentives. As a result, popular programs, such as the residential tax rebates for solar installation, have been reduced or eliminated, and continue to face opposition. In 2013, the Louisiana Public Services Commission ended a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) pilot program that would have increased renewable energy capacity throughout the state, determining it to be unnecessary.
Given that most of the state gets more than 5 kilowatt hours of sunlight per square meter on a daily basis, Louisiana is well suited for solar power. Despite this advantage and the investments over the last decade, the state currently ranks 23rd in installed solar capacity. Louisiana’s electric supply remains dominated by natural gas power plants, and coal-fired power. Nuclear power provides most additional energy needs. Thanks to the oil refining industry, which relies heavily on fossil fuels, the per capita energy use is high, and renewable energy sources have remained comparatively negligible.