An Opinion on Louisiana and Solar Energy

By Ondina Canales, special to Overdrive

Louisiana homeowners are benefiting from the state’s generous tax credits for renewable energy systems. The Louisiana Department of Revenue approved approximately US$12M in tax returns for residential solar energy projects in the 2011 tax season. Federal credits created under the Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have made it possible for homeowners in demand of solar energy solutions to receive up to 30% of the
cost of the system.

The growth of renewable energy incentives at both the federal and state level is enabling Louisiana to position itself as an innovative and environmentally conscious place to live and prosper. Since 2008, Louisiana witnessed a rising trend in renewable energy investments and opportunities. The expansion of the state’s renewable energy economy is made possible through the increased role of economic development organizations and lucrative taxincentive structures, as well as a greater impact by established networks of national entrepreneurs and investors. This sea change is especially significant in New Orleans. It is my opinion that this is a pivotal time in the state’s history and especially for those residents in the New Orleans metropolitan area. As an emerging national hub of entrepreneurism, the New Orleans business community is driving the city’s green movement. The Brookings Institute recently reported that the entrepreneurial activity in New Orleans is 40% above the national average.

Greenpreneurs are playing a critical role in evolving the landscape of renewable energy opportunities in the state of Louisiana. Local homeowners are reaping the benefits of solar power and energy efficient solutions like photovoltaic panel systems and solar hot water heaters without incurring upfront costs. Greenpreneurs are helping to create a lasting impact among the lower to middle income residents in New Orleans. The city’s primary utility company has been
tracking a marked increase in residential applications from homeowners requesting installation of solar panel systems.

New Orleans’ vibrant entrepreneurial spirit is not only a sign that it is evolving past the impacts of Hurricane Katrina but also that the growth is directly touching all segments of its rich culture and population. I am a firm believer that by making the vision of solar energy an attainable reality for all segments of the local community, the more everyone will be plugged into the continued growth of this forward-thinking city.

For far too long, New Orleans has seen a “brain drain” of its young and creative leaders. Despite having state-of-the art academic and research institutions that help to generate local innovative technologies, we continue to watch our talent pool move elsewhere. Now with the support and direction of local entrepreneurs, as well as infrastructure to nurture growth, we are reversing that trend through the development of a globally competitive tech-economy.  And more importantly, this is a regional economy that is charting forward with responsible and sustainable technology.

A confluence of factors have created a right place, right time scenario in New Orleans as its regional economy continues to burgeon
  • Supportive policy – tax incentives
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and startups
  • Economic development organizations
  • Political will
  • State-of-the-art facilities
  • Research centers and academic institutions
  • Investment
  • Talent pool and workforce
New Orleans will continue to evolve and sustainably grow under the direction of its entrepreneurial leaders, and it will do so to benefit all sectors of the regional economy.

Categories: general Inspirational Technology


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