Members of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative have launched a campaign to make their cooperative more transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of its communities. The group has three candidates running for board seats and submitted a bylaw amendment.
As a resident of the North Carolina High Country and a member of Blue Ridge Energy, Appalachian Voices’ Rory McIlmoil believes the co-op can and must do better by its members.
Residents and beekeepers are working with electric cooperatives to opt out of herbicide applications.
Rural electric cooperatives’ legacy of rural economic development uniquely positions them to go beyond energy and find innovative solutions to challenges facing rural communities.
In East Tennessee, Holston Electric Cooperative is listening to its member-owners and responding with new services, like high-speed internet and an opt-out program for herbicide spraying near power lines.
Our Energy Savings team has been working to educate, organize and provide technical support to member-owners who want to increase participation in their rural electric cooperatives.
A new Tennessee law will provide $45 million in grants and tax credits for private companies to subsidize the buildout of rural fiber networks. It also allows rural electric cooperatives to provide broadband.
Electric cooperatives in Virginia and Tennessee have launched community solar projects to help members save money while reducing carbon emissions.
Appalachian Voices recently conducted a Facebook survey in western North Carolina served by rural electric co-ops. Almost 90% of the respondents survey said they had trouble paying their electric bill. Tens of thousands of homes in this region are older and drafty, losing energy through windows, doors and roofs. Yet almost half the population is below the poverty line. A new financing mechanism for energy efficiency improvements could work wonders.
“We do everything we can to keep energy,” Barbara Taylor says as she heads down the stairs to the basement of the home she has shared with her husband, Paul, in New Tazewell, Tennessee since 1980. Outside it’s a humid 78 degrees, but in the narrow basement room that houses the Taylors’ heat pump it’s cool and dry.