A campaign across the US is encouraging people in rural communities to support electric co-ops.
The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International has teamed up with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute to deliver the programme to reduce energy costs, improve reliability and comfort, and increase efficiency in rural households across the country.
Electric co-ops will be supported through the partnership to develop “on-bill financing programmes” for energy efficiency upgrades, community projects in solar, and clean energy storage. On-bill financing gives electric co-op members the ability to finance energy improvements that are repaid over time on their bill.
Doug O’Brien, executive vice president of programs at NCBA CLUSA, said: “Co-operatives are the best way to make sure this program reaches those who need it most. Rural electric co-ops, as member-owned entities, are uniquely organised to always put their members first. With growing opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy, co-operatives are the way to make sure that people have access to these cutting-edge solutions.”
EESI executive director Carol Werner added: “On-bill financing means more money in the pockets of rural households. On-bill financing makes it much easier and cheaper for households to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, which helps them save money. It makes their homes more comfortable and creates local jobs. Electric co-ops have been innovative leaders of this approach over the past decade, and there is enormous potential to grow: there are more than 900 electric co-ops across the country. EESI has been actively supporting on-bill financing since 2010. We’ve helped develop federal loan opportunities that allow rural electric co-operatives to pursue on-bill programs.”
The partnership’s leads are Jason Walsh for NCBA CLUSA and John-Michael Cross for EESI. Mr Walsh was previously a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and the Director of EERE’s Office of Strategic Programs; he also served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council. Mr Cross has led EESI’s On-Bill Financing Project for the past six years.
“The 42 million Americans served by rural electric co-ops should have an opportunity to be part of the clean energy revolution,” says Arturo Garcia-Costas, program officer for the environment at New York Community Trust, which has supported the initiative through a one-year $150,000 grant. “We need to support those who want to embrace technologies that can save money, protect the environment, and safeguard their family’s health.”