Nancy Larned, Karen Wissing, Loren Demerath, KSCL, Time for A Better Shreveport , a photo by trudeau on Flickr.
Writes Nancy Larned of Blue Green Sustainability: We really need your help. The State’s HERO program is prematurely expiring at the end of this month if minor process changes aren’t made. North Louisiana has just gotten up to speed and is at a pivotal tipping point in our efforts. New Orleans just kicked off their program this past month. There is approximately $8 million in ARRA funds that Louisiana is returning due to early unnecessary end, as well as a halt in the momentum in reducing our energy usage in this area.
La DNR’s Empower Louisiana HERO program provides cash incentives of $2,000 to $5,000 to residents and small commercial owners who make specific improvements to their buildings and achieve at least a minimum level of energy use reduction.
The process requires an initial energy audit, conducted by a certified energy rater, followed by the retrofits and improvements. A final energy audit measures the energy-savings impact of the work and triggers the rebate.
Due to factors beyond our control, the North Louisiana efforts were late to start and the minimal marketing initially done in this area did not reach the potential HERO customers due to the lack of efforts/programs in place to promote and support the HERO program.
When the Empower Louisiana HERO program initiated in May of 2010, the cutoff date for the initial audit was December 31, 2011 with a Program Completion Date of April 30, 2012.
In January, 2011 it was revised based on the ability for home and business owners to get the work completed and for the State to process the paperwork. Project Eligibility End Date for Preliminary Submittals was changed to August 31, 2011, allowing a 6 full months for work to get completed.
Recently launched: SEED Shreveport’s Energy Efficiency Division adds benefits to the HERO program.
$100 total audit cost (vs. $475+ for outside of municipal Shreveport)
Bank partnerships – offering lower rates and special terms for Energy Efficiency Loans
A concentrated education and outreach program to promote HERO in Northwest Louisiana.
Our Energy Raters in just the Shreveport/Bossier area are modestly estimating an average of 60+ residential and 100+ commercial audits per month based on the contracts and conversations they are currently involved in.
80% of the audits in our area have a 2 to 3 week turnaround time between initial and final audit, not six months.
The City of New Orleans would also benefit from this statewide extension as their energy program has now developed to the appropriate level as well.
There is a large group of energy efficiency conscious professionals and residents in our state and we have all been working hard to make the transition into a more environmentally focused community. We are successfully creating awareness, creating green jobs and cutting our greenhouse gas emissions.
Ending the HERO program prematurely could have a negative impact on jobs and economic development statewide.
Your support in our efforts would help us make a huge difference in our community. We have requested that LDNR give us a 60 day maximum window versus the 6 months they have allocated. This would restore program eligibility back to the end of December.
We don't want to lose the momentum that we all have worked so hard to create. We have so far to go and we need this program to be successful as the catalyst for our energy efficiency future.
With sincerest thanks and kindest regards,
Nancy J. Larned
Energy Efficiency and Environment Consultant