USDA Energy Savings Program Can Create Jobs in Rural Appalachian Communities

Contact: Cat McCue, Communications Director, 434-293-6373

Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a program to reduce energy costs and increase investment in energy efficiency for rural Americans. The Energy Efficiency Conservation and Loan Program will provide up to $250 million for rural electric cooperatives to lend to business and residential customers for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems.

Through the program, homeowners and businesses in rural areas like Appalachia can receive loans directly from their electric cooperative to conduct energy audits, upgrade their heating, lighting and insulation, and make conversions to more efficient or renewable energy sources. The new loan program could provide significant economic benefits for the rural communities by increasing local demand for these services, resulting in new business development and jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.

Statement from Appalachian Voices Energy Policy Director Rory McIlmoil:

“This kind of direct public funding for energy efficiency is a significant step toward creating jobs and economic opportunities in rural Appalachian communities where they are needed the most. Not only will saving money on their electric bills free up money that rural Americans might invest back into their communities, it will stimulate the energy services industries, creating jobs that cannot be outsourced.

“Residents of rural Appalachia often live in energy-inefficient homes, which leads to high energy costs and financial strain. By helping homeowners improve their home’s energy efficiency, this program could help unlock the potential for homegrown, thriving economies in Appalachia and other rural parts of America.

“Appalachian Voices applauds USDA for launching this program, especially since it opens up the possibility for the creation of on-bill financing programs, a proven way for homeowners to easily fund energy efficiency improvements.”

**** In the coming week, Appalachian Voices will launch a cutting-edge, easy-to-use database that connects homeowners to local energy services providers and their rural electric cooperatives to help stimulate energy efficiency projects in Appalachia and the Southeast. Both regions lead the U.S. in terms of wasted energy and untapped energy efficiency potential.