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On Heels of USDA Energy Efficiency Loan Program, Appalachian Voices Launches the Energy Savings Action Center

The Energy Savings Action Center is an easy-to-use tool designed to help save money and energy by promoting energy efficiency loan programs through your electric utility.

The Energy Savings Action Center is an easy-to-use tool designed to help save money and energy by promoting energy efficiency loan programs through your electric utility.

On Dec. 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP), a new loan program that will provide at least $250 million to rural electric cooperatives each year to develop or expand energy efficiency loan programs for residential and business customers.

To encourage rural electric cooperatives across Appalachia take advantage of the new program, and help the region’s residents save money on their energy bills, Appalachian Voices created the Energy Savings Action Center.

Stephen Johnson of the online publication Electric Co-op Today stressed the importance of the EECLP, stating that “Although energy efficiency measures can reduce home energy use considerably, many consumers and businesses do not invest in them because they lack the capital or financing to do so.”

And USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the economic benefits of the program, saying, “Energy efficiency retrofitting can shrink home energy use by 40 percent, saving money for consumers and helping rural utilities manage their electric load more efficiently.”

“Ultimately, reducing energy use helps pump capital back into rural communities,” Vilsack said. “This program is designed to meet the unique needs of consumers and businesses to encourage energy efficiency retrofitting projects across rural America.”

While rural electric co-ops across Appalachia provide some form of financial support for home energy efficiency improvements, most of the existing programs do very little to help lower-income customers who would benefit the most from reduced energy costs. Additionally, strong home energy loan programs would spur the development of local energy services industries, creating new jobs and strengthening local economies. That’s why we created the Energy Savings Action Center.

Through the Action Center, residents in eight southeastern states who want to save money and energy can now find information about home energy loans and other energy efficiency programs offered by their electric utilities, and if their utility does not offer a full-scale home energy loan, they can take action by sending a letter to their utility requesting that it adopt such a program.

In addition, users can also find a list of local companies that provide home energy audits, insulation, weatherization, duct repair and other improvements, with links to the company websites and contact information, and a list of nonprofits in the region that focus on energy efficiency and other clean energy sources. Plenty of other resources are also available, and they can all now be found in one place.

Both national and regional organizations, as well as a local energy services company have provided some great reviews of the Action Center. Carol Werner, Executive Director of the DC-based Environmental and Energy Study Institute, said that “Appalachian Voices’ Action Center is a valuable, one-of-a-kind tool for residents in the Southeast to learn more about energy efficiency programs that will improve home comfort and cut energy costs.”

And Natalie Mims, Energy Efficiency Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, added that, “This is a great new tool, especially on the tail of the USDA announcing their new rural utility services energy efficiency and renewable energy loan program rules.”

Finally, Kent Hively, president of High Country Energy Solutions, a business specializing in home weatherization throughout western North Carolina, said “Home energy loans can help keep more local dollars in our community, provide new jobs for skilled laborers and support small independent businesses, such as ours, by expanding our market base and creating new awareness about the services we offer.”

As we continue moving forward with the Energy Savings for Appalachia program, and work to promote comprehensive home energy loan programs through rural electric cooperatives across Appalachia, we will use the Action Center to connect residents to their utilities and local energy services companies, and to generate strong support for home energy loans among residents and communities.

But we need your help. Take action today to let your electric utility know that you want it to offer a home energy loan that pays for comprehensive energy efficiency improvements to your home. And if you are a local business that provides home energy services, please fill out this form to enter your information into the Action Center.

Enjoy the Energy Savings Action Center folks, and let’s start saving energy!

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