Entergy New Orleans through its Energy Smart Program has launched the Hurricane Ida Recovery Fund to help its small businesses, commercial and industrial customers cover up to 100% of the cost for new and sustainable energy projects as they recover from the natural disaster.
Those eligible for the program must require financial assistance outside of assistance already requested or received to complete energy-saving projects related to Hurricane Ida’s impact. Projects can include equipment upgrades or replacements, renovations, rebuilds and upgrades that lead to increased energy efficiency in buildings.
The utility says the Hurricane Ida Recovery fund will help its community rebuild from the storm as well as to help hit sustainability goals in the city as it encourages customers to utilize energy efficiency.
Responding to natural disasters and their impact on energy use and utilities is an increasing concern for industry. According to a Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies report, the US insurance agency says there is an annual loss of up to $55 billion because of natural disaster caused power outages.
The United States has had nine weather and climate events with more than a billion dollars in damage in 2021 so far, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There were 22 in 2020, showing the need for utilities to find long-term solutions to address the threat.
Overall, there have been nearly 300 billion-dollar natural events since 1980, resulting in $1.98 trillion in damages.
In April, President Biden announced a $2 trillion plan that will tackle infrastructure and address climate resilience. Of that, $50 billion will be dedicated to being prepared for natural disasters, including protecting electric grids and urban infrastructure.
Of those this year, there was the power failure in Texas during a major winter storm in February and ongoing drought and wildfires in California has caused the increased need to develop reliable energy use, such as what the New Orleans utility is encouraging for its commercial users. Some ideas to keep power and energy online include microgrids and renewable energy uses such as biogas to keep energy efficient and operational or quickly replaceable in case of an event.
Nearly 950,000 Entergy customers in Louisiana were impacted by August’s Hurricane Ida. The utility had power restored to 85% of those within two weeks of the storm. The already established Energy Smart program is designed to help build energy-efficient upgrades.