August 12, 2017

National Program Lets Co-ops Offer Solar Loans

It just became easier for electric cooperatives to offer their members solar financing, thanks to the National Cooperative Bank and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation. Members of participating co-ops will be able to borrow up to $40,000 from their electric cooperative to subscribe to community solar programs, install rooftop solar panels, and more! Learn more about how co-ops can help their members go solar.

Communities Are Taking Control of Their Power—Here’s How:

Even without federal leadership on climate change, there’s still a lot that communities can do to promote clean, local energy. From energy efficiency to solar energy, governments and businesses across the Southeast are adopting programs that will help move the region toward a more sustainable future. Check out this list of clean energy policies that cities and states have already enacted for ideas on changes you can make in your own community!

Which States Spend the Most on Energy?

Residents of Connecticut spend more money on energy than people in any other state, according to WalletHub. Southeastern states still pay a lot, though. Georgia ranks sixth in the nation for total energy costs, while North Carolina and Tennessee rank eleventh and twelfth in terms of electricity costs. See how other states fared, and check out energy savings tips and policy perspectives from energy experts.

Energy News Roundup

NC Solar Bill—and Controversial Wind Moratorium—Become Law
House Bill 589, which aims to advance the development of solar energy in North Carolina, was signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper on July 27. While the law ensures a market for more than 2 gigawatts of future solar development in the state, there are several flaws. It gives Duke the power to burden solar customers with additional fees and places an artificial limit on solar development. Furthermore, the bill’s exclusion of rural electric cooperatives and the moratorium on wind energy leave the benefits of renewables out of reach of rural communities. Read about some of the issues with the new law.

TVA Board Seats Sit Empty
Five out of nine seats on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Board of Directors remain unfilled, waiting for nominations from President Donald Trump. They will likely stay that way until September. In the meantime, both customers and applicants, including former and current congressmen, are waiting to see who will be in charge of the utility that provides electricity to over 9 million people in Tennessee and neighboring states. Learn more about TVA and the empty board positions.

Members Challenge Electric Co-op over Herbicide Use
Member-owners of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative in East Tennessee are voicing concerns with the co-op’s use of herbicides to control plants around power lines. Claims emerged a year ago from residents of Sharp’s Chapel that herbicide was sprayed on private property without notice, causing medical issues. Last month, residents of Harrogate also spoke up about the spraying at a city council meeting. Lisa Strickland, a local organic grower, says the community and PVEC leaders “must work together to find a better solution.” Read more about the dispute over herbicide spraying and the co-op’s responsibility to its members.

Tips and Resources

Monthly Energy Savings Tip!
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Not sure what more you can do to cut energy waste in your home? Use the U.S. Department of Energy’s list of online tools to figure out which upgrades will have the biggest impact in your life. You can calculate how much you’ll save by switching to a more efficient appliance, see how your energy use stacks up against other homes, search for incentive programs that reward you for choosing energy efficiency, and more. Check it out now!

Do you have an energy tip to share? Please email katie.kienbaum@appvoices.org to submit your tip!

Events

SEEA Annual Conference
Explore how to make “a prosperous, cleaner, and healthier Southeast” at Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance's annual conference, which will be held October 16-18 in Atlanta, Ga. Discounted registration available for attendees from government, nonprofits, and academia. Register now.

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

  1. Forward this email to 5 friends
  2. Take Action: Sign a letter to your cooperative supporting energy efficiency
  3. Live in western N.C.? Host a free workshop at your church or local community group -- contact katie.kienbaum@appvoices.org to set one up!
  4. Send a letter to your local newspapers expressing your support for home energy efficiency. Contact lauren@appvoices.org to get some tips.
  5. Have you already made significant energy efficiency improvements? Share your story to help others see how they can experience the same benefits. Contact lauren@appvoices.org to learn how.


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