Consumer Protection and Education

The Alliance monitors regulatory proceedings at both of Louisiana’s utility regulatory bodies: the New Orleans City Council and the Louisiana Public Service Commission. We are holding electric and gas utilities, and their regulators accountable. We ensure that unfair costs are not passed along to ratepayers on their energy bills. In April 2012, we won a case against Entergy that will save ratepayers from having to foot a $72 million bill for a failed nuclear power study.

Ratepayer’s Bill of Rights
The Alliance for Affordable Energy and Citizens for Change worked with the New Orleans City Council and Entergy New Orleans to develop a Ratepayer’s Bill of Rights. Now part of the city code, the law states “If you feel that the Utility has violated your rights or is in violation of its Customer Service Regulations, you have the right to participate in the Customer Complaint and Dispute Resolution Process.” The Alliance helps consumers with bill errors navigate the process.

Managing Utility Profits
The law allows investor owned utilities to earn a profit, called Rate of Return. The utilities in Louisiana are earning about 11% guaranteed profit. Since the economic downturn, the rate of return has stayed the same. Though banks are earning 3.5-4.5% off 30 year mortgages these days, it is not fair that utilities remain unaffected by the national economy. The Alliance will be intervening in upcoming Utility rate cases to dispute the profit margin currently allowed.

Clean Power Plan 
The Alliance is working with a coalition of advocates from environmental and climate justice groups as well as the clean energy sector to ensure Louisiana develops and follows a fair and affordable Clean Power Plan, as instructed by EPA’s new rules for power plants. Reductions of Carbon Dioxide that affect health and the environment are possible and may even reduce electricity bills. Louisiana is ripe to lead on a clean energy economy. Read more HERE.

Health Impact Assessment                                                                                                                                         The Alliance has partnered with the Louisiana Public Health Institute to conduct a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to study the health effects of the various energy generation options for New Orleans. Entergy New Orleans’ Michoud plant, located in New Orleans East neighborhood, is aging and moving toward retirement. Through funding by the Health Impact Project, a program of Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we are working with a variety of stakeholders to create a transparent and engaging process to gain a better understanding of how energy generation in our city affects the health of our citizens. More information on the progress of the HIA can be found HERE, and will be updated as we conduct the study in 2015.

Our Cleco, Our Community
The Alliance for Affordable Energy worked to protect Cleco Customers during the takeover of the century old Louisiana company by a consortium of international investor groups. While Cleco was eventually purchased by the group of investors, the Commission opened two new dockets to investigate utility tax structure advantages and double leveraging in Louisiana. Follow HERE to see our work on this important issue.

Energy Education Program
Our Energy Education Program is focused on teaching young students about energy sources and conservation. The goal of our program is to introduce young students to the concepts of clean vs. dirty and renewable vs. non-renewable energy sources, and to instill a sense of why energy conservation is important for all of our futures. Read more.

Consumer Education
Knowledge is power. We aim to educate consumers on their rights and the true cost of energy. We use our Facebook page and twitter account to communicate with our members on a regular basis. The Alliance blog is updated at least weekly and we publish a bi-weekly e-newsletter, called Energy Matters, which highlights current and local information on energy that goes to our entire listserv. Our Executive Director hosts a local radio news program on WTUL New Orleans 91.5FM called News and Views the first Wednesday of each month. We submit letters to the editor on a frequent basis. We table at popular festivals, including the Freret Street Market, Earth Day Festival, and Hornets game. We are proud of our new community outreach and youth education programs. We have a curriculum for elementary school age children and a bike generator that literally forces you to work harder to light a traditional incandescent bulb.