Abita Springs Goes Green
One year ago, the small, bucolic town of Abita Springs put its name on the national map by becoming the first town in Louisiana to commit a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030. “I was blown away by the amount of national and worldwide press coverage we received. It was quite a whirlwind,” said LeAnn Magee, Chair of the Abita Committee for Energy Sustainability (ACES). When the press coverage died down, the real work began of determining just how to achieve such a goal. “Suddenly there was an urgency to make something happen while we had everyone’s attention,” said Magee. “My philosophy changed from the need to see a project through to completion, to recognizing the value of simply getting started.” Now, one year later, the work of ACES includes convening local business leaders, elected officials such as Abita Mayor Greg Lemons, utility board members, and technical experts to discuss innovative approaches to renewable energy such as community solar. Community solar allows anyone in a community to purchase small “blocks” of solar energy from a large solar farm, as opposed investing only in residential solar energy. What’s occurring in Abita Springs is a testament to informed and engaged citizens deciding to work together. Magee and her team have done the necessary background research on renewables to become mini-experts themselves. ACES is setting an example for Louisiana residents that a clean-energy economy is within reach.
Kevin Fitzwilliam is a Sustainability Fellow with Environmental Entrepreneurs and is the owner of Atlas Handmade Beads, a New Orleans company helping to move the Gulf South beyond plastic beads (atlasbeads.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kevin Fitzwilliam