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Energy Smart: Innovative program builds local economy and cuts down on utility costs

By Green Coast on 28 Feb 2018

Jackie Dadakis and Entergy’s Derek Mills present at AESP Conference
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Jackie Dadakis and Entergy’s Derek Mills present at AESP Conference

It’s said that you don’t mess with success, but that’s precisely what Entergy New Orleans and the New Orleans City Council did with the Energy Smart program in 2017. And it made the energy program better, providing more incentives and opportunities for significant energy savings.

Entergy’s Derek Mills and GCE Services Jackie Dadakis recently appeared on a panel at the annual AESP conference in New Orleans to discuss the improvements to the program. Part of what makes the New Orleans program innovative is its commitment to using local companies—particularly minority-owned businesses like ILSI Engineering and GCE Services—engaging multiple entities such as businesses, schools and other publicly-owned buildings and workforce development.

“We wanted to create a more inclusive program that involves the community, because without that community component, you won’t get the results that our city needs and deserves,” says Mills.

The New Orleans City Council first developed the program with Entergy New Orleans in 2011, and although the program won numerous awards, the Council wanted the program to make an even bigger impact.

Initially the program had focused on standard measures such as using LED light bulbs, Energy Star rated appliances and weatherization techniques, but in 2017 it expanded its offerings. Entergy hired APTIM to implement the redesign, and, as APTIM program manager Kristin McKee puts it, that meant a more New Orleans focused approach.

“The whole design is reflective of New Orleans: what the city is, what it needs in terms of energy efficiency and how to reach all segments of the city,“says McKee.

GCE became part of the effort to increase the program’s reach. McKee says they wanted to ensure publicly funded organizations had access to the program’s dedicated funds for energy efficiency upgrades and GCE’s longstanding relationships with schools and government entities could help connect these groups to the program.

As part of its agreement, the Energy Smart program subsidizes GCE to perform free comprehensive energy audits for commercial and publicly owned buildings. The audits reveal opportunities for energy savings, identifying specific upgrades, including capital improvements, for which Energy Smart provides significant rebates and incentives. Dadakis says that allows their school clients to upgrade equipment that will net substantial cost savings and extend the life of the building’s energy system.

“For example at Langston Hughes Elementary School, we were able to replace broken sensors throughout the building as well as add other efficiency measures. The program allocated $50,000 for the project,” Dadakis says.

Mills adds that in addition to using local companies and expanding the program’s footprint, Energy Smart is working with the Urban League to train more minority contractors in energy efficiency services.

Categories: Environment

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