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New Orleans City Council to consider nuclear in proposed renewable standard

The New Orleans City Council is considering whether to establish a renewable portfolio standard for Entergy New Orleans LLC, putting the Big Easy on track to join other cities and states adopting such mandates.

Helena Moreno, who chairs the council's utility committee, introduced a resolution to adapt a mandate for the Entergy Corp. subsidiary to generate a certain amount of electricity from zero-carbon-emitting energy sources. If the resolution passes during the council's March 28 regular meeting, rulemaking for the RPS will begin. Initial comments would be due June 3, and the council's advisers would recommend a draft RPS requirement by Sept. 2.

"New Orleans is on the frontline of climate change and it requires urgent action," Moreno said in a statement. "To this end, the RPS is a cornerstone of the city's strategy. Through collaborative action with our partners in the public and private sectors and an assertive policy direction like an RPS, we know that New Orleans can extinguish its reliance on carbon-intensive generation. Future generations are counting on our action now."

More specific details on the RPS, such as what percentage of the utility's load must come from renewable resources and whether the city would allow renewable energy credits to satisfy the RPS, will be determined later as the council embarks on the rulemaking process. However, Moreno's chief of staff, Andrew Tuozzolo, said the RPS will consider nuclear to help Entergy meet carbon-free generation goals.

"From the chair's perspective and as the driver of this policy, our intention is to make it aggressive, and our intention is to allow our investor-owned utilities to count their noncarbon generation toward the RPS," Tuozzolo said in an interview. "We're looking for carbon-free generation. We're not going to exclude nuclear."

Entergy New Orleans supplies about 50% of its retail sales with nuclear power, according to the company. The utility has been working with the city council on providing the city with zero-carbon-emitting energy sources. In 2018, the company committed to adding up to 100 MW of renewable energy capacity to its energy portfolio.

Entergy said in an emailed statement that including nuclear in the RPS is key to providing clean and affordable power to New Orleans.

"For the New Orleans region, which has no significant onshore wind resource, renewable sources like solar generation and virtually emission-free nuclear energy are both important sources of clean energy," the company said. "Entergy is working with both types of resources to provide the outcome necessary for limiting the impacts of climate change — the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."