For Tennessee’s electricity customers, much of the power they buy is generated by one utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA doesn’t sell electricity directly to consumers, but to distributor utilities such as cities, towns and rural electric cooperatives, which then re-sell it to residents and businesses.
Many of the distributor utilities in Tennessee are electric cooperatives, whose customers are members who have equal shares in the utility and a voice in how the cooperative operates and what programs it offers.
Energy efficiency is a lasting way for residents to reduce their electricity use and save money. Insulation, air duct sealing and other energy efficiency upgrades can lower electric bills by up to 40 percent. However, the high upfront cost of repairs remains a barrier for many residents.
Appalachian Voices is working with Tennessee officials to explore the design of a state-wide on-bill financing program where the utility would cover the upfront costs of energy efficiency upgrades. Residents would see immediate savings on their electric bill and a portion of the monthly savings would go to the utility to pay for the upgrades. We are working with electric cooperatives in east Tennessee to join this program.
Appalachian Electric Cooperative
Appalachian Voices is currently working with multiple local agencies and community service providers to conduct educational energy efficiency workshops in Appalachian Electric Cooperative’s service territory. AEC is a leader in the effort for a state-wide on-bill financing program for energy efficiency. If you are a member of AEC, let them know you support them starting an on-bill financing energy efficiency program that is accessible to all, especially folks with lower incomes.
Currently, residents in Tennessee can complete a free eScore self-audit to learn ways to save money on their electric bills. Additionally, most residents can apply for financing through TVA or their electric utility for energy efficient heat pumps and other household energy improvements. Unfortunately, those financing programs are not accessible for low-income residents who need help the most.