Energy Savings for the High Country

Community members sign a letter asking Blue Ridge Electric to develop an on-bill financing program for energy efficiency

Get Involved

New River Light and Power customers: Sign a letter of support asking for the development of energy efficiency finance programs

Blue Ridge EMC members: BRE is now offering a loan program for energy efficiency upgrades. Learn more about their program and submit a form to apply!

To learn more or get involved in the Energy Savings for the High Country campaign contact Lauren Essick at (828) 262-1500

Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation serves approximately 66,500 residential customers in the High Country region of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany counties and parts of Wilkes, Alexander and Avery counties.

Through our Energy Savings for the High Country campaign we are promoting energy efficiency on a community level and working to expand access to low-cost financing for home energy improvements throughout the High Country region of western North Carolina, which includes Watauga, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell and Wilkes counties. We’ve made this commitment because many residents throughout the region are low-income or do not have the money to pay for energy efficiency upgrades, and have high energy bills due to living in homes that waste energy.

Our approach involves two major strategies:

  1. Educating the community through workshops and one-on-one home visits
  2. Advocating for local electric utilities to provide their members with a finance program for energy efficiency.

Campaign status

Interest in on-bill energy efficiency finance programs is growing among electric cooperatives across the state, and as a result of our community outreach in the High Country region, which is served by Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp., New River Light and Power and Mountain Electric. For instance, Roanoke Electric Cooperative, a small but community-oriented co-op serving eastern North Carolina, launched its Upgrade to $ave program in early 2015 and has been extremely successful so far.

In 2015, we carried on a successful year-long campaign that involved a strong community outreach effort, including our High Country Home Energy Makeover contest, which resulted in three homes receiving substantial home energy efficiency improvements and a 15-30% savings on their energy bills. We also gathered over 1,000 signatures of support from Blue Ridge Electric members for the development of an on-bill finance program. In addition, we collected more than 20 letters of support from local energy efficiency businesses, community service organizations and other stakeholders supporting an on-bill finance program.

And through this outreach and support from the community, as well as numerous discussions with co-op management, Blue Ridge Electric recently announced a new on-bill energy efficiency finance program called the Energy Saver Loan Program. This reflects Blue Ridge’s commitment to improving the lives of its members and supporting local economic development, and we applaud them for their leadership.

Looking ahead, our goal is to increase awareness of on-bill financing and the benefits of energy efficiency, and to work with the other two electric utilities serving the High Country to develop their own on-bill financing programs.

What is the potential impact of an on-bill finance program?

Blue Ridge Electric just launched a pilot on-bill finance program in 2016, but over the long-term we hope to see that program expand to serve hundreds of homes a year. If Blue Ridge Electric (learn more about OBF) were to provide just 1% of its residential members with $7,500 in home energy improvements over the next five years:

  • $4.7 million could be spent on energy efficiency projects
  • 15 local jobs could be created and sustained
  • The average household would receive a gross savings of $975 a year
  • Another 7 jobs could be created from the reinvestment of this saved money in local goods and services

Blue Ridge Electric service territory facts

Avg. poverty rate 20%
Median income $35,000
Avg. percent of income going towards energy bill: 3.9%

Download our High Country Home Energy resource guide

High Country Resource Guide

Download our French Broad EMC resource guide to learn more about public and private home energy services and assistance in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery,Caldwell Watauga and Wilkes counties