New Orleans Eyes Microgrid Development as Part of Smart Cities Strategy

Feb. 1, 2018
The City of New Orleans is eyeing a plan to develop microgrids as part of a larger smart cities strategy proposed this week.

The City of New Orleans, a U.S. poster child for the destructive power of hurricanes, is eyeing a plan to develop microgrids as part of a larger smart cities strategy proposed this week.

The city council’s utility committee voted Wednesday to require that Entergy New Orleans develop a grid modernization plan that would include microgrids, distributed energy, electric vehicle charging stations and energy efficiency efforts.

The committee wants the energy improvements to be integrated into a larger smart city strategy that includes transportation and communications improvements.

“New Orleans stands at the edge of a technology frontier and how we respond will either make us a true 21st-century city or leave us in the wake of this advanced technology as a backwater laggard,” said Jason Williams, committee chair and city council president.

As an immediate short-term goal, the committee called for greater penetration of  solar, storage and other distributed generation on the utility distribution grid. The plan also calls for identifying and approving select microgrids for development within New Orleans.

In a unanimous vote, the committee passed a resolution to open a utility docket (UD-18-01) and provide a mechanism requiring Entergy to offer the grid modernization plan. Stakeholders and the public will be invited to comment. The city council is expected to vote on the resolution February 8, which then requires that Entergy produce a grid modernization report within 60 days.

Former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was part of a panel that provided input on the plan prior to the vote. Others on the panel were Melanie Kenderdine, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, and Paula Gold-Williams, president and CEO of CPS Energy, the municipally owned San Antonio electric utility, which has also adopted a smart cities strategy.

New Orleans is considered highly vulnerable to hurricanes and suffered massive power outages and flooding in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina.

Learn about plans by cities to develop microgrids at Microgrid 2018, May 7-9, in Chicago.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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