When Hurrican Ida hit New Orleans, it took out eight major transmission lines delivering electricity to the New Orleans metro area, after Hurricane Laura severely damaged lines last year as well. One resident Jenel Hazlett was fortunate to have solar panels and a battery backup system which powered her home through the hurricane and subsequent outages. As climate change induced severe weather events persist, centralized power grids become more vulnerable, exposing energy infrastructure that lacks resilience. Although solar systems are both better for the environment and more resilient and reliable than centralized power grids, the upfront cost of solar installation is still high.
While the costs of home solar installations are swiftly falling as their use becomes more widespread, U.S. federal tax credits to help pay the costs are also declining.A 30% tax credit in recent years has now fallen to 26% for systems installed after 2019 and is set to decline further, though congressional Democrats are in the midst of an aggressive push to extend or expand such breaks. The state of Louisiana has also moved in recent years to scale back the practice of 'net metering', which gives those operating solar panels energy bill credits for excess power they feed into the grid.
This article highlights compounded slow disasters of climate change and vulnerable grid infrastructure. Although addressing slow disasters requires structural approaches (e.g. weather-proofing grid infrastructure) performed by the federal government and other actors, energy sovereignty through renewable energy investments offers an opportunity for households to supply their own power thereby deepening their understanding and appreciation for energy systems, while minimizing their carbon footprint.
David Sherfinski, "Hurricane Ida power failures prompt calls for more solar energy, tougher grids", contributed by Morgan Sarao, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 9 September 2021, accessed 18 September 2021.