Inside Appalachian Voices

French Broad Energy Forum is a Success

Date: December 13, 2016

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forum attendees

Attendees at the French Broad Energy Forum listen to a presentation on energy efficiency.

On Nov. 16, nearly 60 citizens attended an energy efficiency information session for members of the French Broad Electric Membership Corp., an electric cooperative that serves six rural counties in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee.

They came out to learn about and discuss how on-bill financing — a method that makes paying for home energy efficiency improvements more affordable — could improve their lives and local economies.

The forum brought together members of the co-op, local government and economic development representatives, community service agencies, numerous businesses and a regional development council. It was sponsored by the North Carolina On-Bill Working Group, with Appalachian Voices, Community Housing Coalition of Madison County, and Southern Reconciliation House (Yancey County) serving as co-sponsors.

Speakers included: Eliza Laubach, who was serving her last day as our Energy Savings Outreach Associate; Rory McIlmoil, our Energy Policy Director; representatives from Neighbors in Need, Community Housing Coalition and Southern Reconciliation House; Wesley Holmes of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance; John Kidda, President of reNew Home Inc.; and Sam Hutchins, French Broad’s Member Services Manager.

The forum showed how hard these communities work to assist residents and businesses who struggle to pay their energy bills, need help with basic home repairs, or are looking to gain a foothold as a new local business.

Most of all, it showed just how strong the public support is across the French Broad co-op area for comprehensive on-bill energy efficiency financing, which could save residents as much as 10 percent on their energy costs while benefiting their electric co-op as well.

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