The southeastern United States represents one of the largest opportunities for reducing energy consumption and generating new economic opportunities. The region holds almost a third of the nation’s energy efficiency potential, as most states are in the bottom half of the rankings for energy efficiency performance.
Appalachian Voices has crafted a plan to promote energy efficiency programs in a way that benefits the people, economy and environment of Appalachia. Our goal is to help rural mountain communities tap into this potential by working with electric membership cooperatives to develop financing programs aimed at reducing electricity costs while promoting and strengthening the region’s energy services industries.
Financing Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency enables households and businesses to lower their electric bills while bringing much-needed jobs to rural areas. However, the upfront cost of efficiency improvements remains a barrier for most home and business owners.
Much of rural Appalachia receives power generated by large electric utilities, but that is delivered by small member-owned electric cooperatives. Currently, very few cooperatives in the region provide the option to finance home energy efficiency improvements. Our focus is to work with cooperatives to develop a program called on-bill financing that removes the upfront costs for homeowners.
Energy Efficiency Services Industry
Appalachia has a small but growing energy services industry that provides home energy audits, weatherization upgrades and sales of energy efficient appliances. While these businesses offer an opportunity for strong job growth across the region, the industry is strongest in states with policies that support energy efficiency. Our goal is to help the industry grow by working with multiple stakeholders to promote strong federal, state and local policies aimed at enhancing the region’s energy efficiency.
The ultimate goal of the Energy Savings for Appalachia campaign is to generate widespread support and implementation of energy efficiency financing programs by electric cooperatives serving our region. These efforts to reduce residential electricity demand and kickstart new businesses in rural Appalachia will require working closely with electric cooperatives and empowering local citizens and businesses to become advocates for energy efficiency policies and programs.