Appalachian Voices Launches Program to Save Energy and Promote Jobs in Appalachia // Policy Expert Tapped to Lead New Initiative


Cat McCue, Communications Director, 434-293-6373, cat @
Rory McIlmoil, Energy Policy Director, 828-262-1500, rory @

Boone, N.C. – Appalachian Voices today unveiled a new program that aims to reduce electricity costs for homeowners, stimulate job growth for local communities, and achieve a cleaner, healthier environment for the Appalachian mountain region. Rory McIlmoil, a long-time advocate for Appalachia with a background in environmental science and policy, has been hired to lead the initiative, Energy Savings for Appalachia.

The Southeast has the largest untapped energy-efficiency resource of any region in the country, with 29% of the nation’s total potential. The largely rural area of Appalachia, where homes are less energy efficient than average, holds an abundance of wasted energy. Much of this region is served by member-owned electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities, few of which offer energy savings financing options for their members.

The Energy Savings for Appalachia program will focus on partnering with co-ops to facilitate the implementation of energy savings programs and help educate their members on the many economic, health and environmental benefits of reducing electricity consumption. The initial focus will be on North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, with long-range plans including Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia and West Virginia. In addition to the work with co-ops and homeowner and business outreach, the program will also build public support for state and federal energy savings policies.

“Appalachian Voices has crafted a common-sense plan for homeowners to get the most bang for their buck on energy use, and also accelerate the growth of an energy efficiency services industry in Appalachia,” said Matt Wasson, director of programs. “Rory’s multi-faceted knowledge of the science, economics and policy of energy issues in Appalachia, and his deep roots to the mountain region make him a clear leader for helping advance these solutions.”

Improvements in residential energy efficiency include weatherizing and retrofitting homes, as well as replacing inefficient appliances. Such energy savings result in lower electricity bills, giving people more money to spend in their local economy or on other basic needs. Energy efficiency finance programs will have an especially beneficial impact in Appalachia, where residential customers of co-ops pay up to 15% more on electricity each year than the typical state resident, and the counties covered by many of these co-ops typically have a higher rate of poverty than the national average.

“I’m excited to join Appalachian Voices to help residents save money by saving energy, promote local jobs and a stronger economy, and protect the region’s natural resources,” McIlmoil said. “This work is critical for communities in developing forward-thinking solutions at a time when too many politicians seem to be looking backwards.”

This summer, the organization will launch an online Energy Savings Action Center to provide residents with information about making their home more energy efficient and reducing their electric bills while supporting a clean, local economy. The site will link to programs offered by regional electric co-ops and businesses that offer various home energy services. The action center will also track how Appalachia’s congressional representatives vote on clean energy bills and provide an online tool where citizens can send messages to their elected officials.

A descendant of West Virginia pioneers, McIlmoil received his B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science from Furman University and a Master’s in Global Environmental Policy from American University. Prior to joining Appalachian Voices, he served as the head of the energy program at West Virginia-based environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies. Over the course of his career, McIlmoil has conducted projects for community groups, universities, local governments, and federal agencies such as the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy. His work has included analyzing the fiscal and economic impacts of coal and other energy resources for Appalachian states, assessing the potential for developing small-scale renewable energy technologies, and developing energy efficiency and renewable energy plans for local governments.

Appalachian Voices is an award-winning, environmental non-profit committed to protecting the natural resources of central and southern Appalachia, focusing on reducing coal’s impact on the region and advancing our vision for a cleaner energy future. Founded in 1997, we are headquartered in Boone, N.C. with offices in Charlottesville, Va.; Nashville, Tn. and Washington, D.C.