A small group of energy efficiency and environmental justice representatives met Thursday to begin putting together a plan the state could institute to meet requirements of the federal Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan went into effect in October and is meant to help reduce the release of carbon dioxide from power plants. The plan has been challenged in court, and on Feb. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on any enforcement until the matter is resolved in court.
Louisiana is moving forward on two fronts — joining in with a group of more than 20 states to challenge the plan in court and having the state Department of Environmental Quality develop a plan to meet the federal regulation.
This spring, DEQ held the first public meeting to gather information on what the state’s plan should include to meet lower carbon dioxide levels.
The Clean Power Plan gives a number of options states can include in the plan to meet the carbon dioxide reduction goals.
“The federal plan says jump this high and the state has to develop a plan to jump that high,” said David Farnsworth, senior associate with the Regulatory Assistance Project.
For many at the meeting, one of the more attractive possibilities for the groups lies in the energy efficiency section where carbon dioxide releases can be reduced by making homes more energy efficient.
Even though Louisiana has low energy prices, utility bills are 50 percent to 100 percent more expensive than the national average, according to the Alliance for Affordable Energy.
“Energy efficiency for low-income residential customers is a significant opportunity for Louisiana,” said Khalil Shahyd, project manager for urban solutions with the Natural Resource Defense Counsel.
When homes use less energy, residents save money, and power companies don’t have to build as many new power plants, which reduces costs for all rate payers, he said.
The meeting was just a first step for the groups, who will now go back to their communities to talk more about what Louisiana residents would like to see included in the state’s plan, said Logan Burke, of the Alliance for Affordable Energy.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.