Tulane Energy Institute co-hosts Clean Energy Forum

From left, Tulane Energy Institute Executive Director Pierre Conner, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and Entergy CEO Leo Denault.


At the Tulane Energy Institute (TEI), we aim to foster student interest and expertise in the rapidly evolving energy industry. Just as importantly, we aim to contribute to the betterment of both our community and the world at large.

Recently, TEI co-hosted the Clean Energy Forum with Entergy New Orleans in order to foster discussion around a sustainable and reliable clean energy future for New Orleans. Entergy CEO Leo Denault and former energy secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz joined me in moderating the discussion, which took place on Oct. 7 and featured remarks by Denault and Dr. Moniz as well as New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

When I asked about cutting carbon emissions, Denault emphasized that Entergy wants to be part of the solution by safely and effectively delivering energy to the New Orleans community while balancing critical factors like reliability, sustainability and affordability. Denault also discussed the need for a nuclear power generation future, as Entergy owns and operates close to 9,000 MW in nuclear generation capacity.

Denault assured the crowd of more than 200 business leaders, Entergy employees and Tulane students that Entergy has “an all-of-the-above strategy” toward carbon reduction, and its goal is “not purely a renewable energy strategy but a carbon-cutting one.”

Cutting carbon emissions is, of course, one of the ways that we can combat climate change — a major topic of discussion throughout the forum.

Dr. Moniz, who served as President Obama’s energy secretary from 2013 to 2017, declared that the time for dealing with climate change through carbon reduction is immediate.

“This is an issue of political accountability, and we don’t have time for this to go on,” he said.

Both Moniz and Denault spoke highly of the role that natural gas can play in carbon reduction.

“By 2030, when we’ll have retired the majority of our coal fleet, we will have replaced it with new gas and renewables,” said Denault.

As part of the Clean Energy Forum, Tulane Master of Management in Energy students took a tour of Entergy’s solar power generation facility here in New Orleans. As a result, the students got a first-hand look at the economics of installation and operation of a solar facility with battery storage.

Through specialized curriculum and experiential learning, the Master of Management in Energy gives students a complete understanding of both traditional and renewable energy sources. And, through TEI, students have access to cutting-edge work being done at a broad spectrum of energy companies.

As executive director of TEI, I am honored to be in a position to enhance Tulane’s reputation as a preeminent source of energy research while preparing our remarkable students for fruitful careers in the energy industry. Additionally, I hope to continue to play at least a small role in bettering our community through events like the Clean Energy Forum.

— Pierre Conner, executive director, Tulane Energy Institute