April 1, 2017

Need for Energy Efficiency Remains Great

High energy bills and inefficient homes remain a great burden for many families in the Southeast and across the nation (see here and here). However, home energy upgrades often have a high upfront cost that many households can’t afford. This is why Appalachian Voices’ Energy Savings team is working hard to promote accessible and inclusive energy efficiency financing. Learn about on-bill financing for energy efficiency, and then get up to date on our campaigns in Tennessee and North Carolina!

WNC Counties Make History Supporting Energy Efficiency

In March, Mitchell and Yancey County Commissions became the first in the country to pass resolutions supporting the development of an on-bill energy efficiency financing program by their local electric cooperative. Both counties are served by French Broad Electric Membership Corporation, which has not implemented the program despite community support. The resolutions, proposed by Appalachian Voices, express support for French Broad EMC developing a program that offers financing for all residents, including low-income households and renters, to make home energy improvements. Check out this article from the Mitchell News-Journal, and read our blog about the resolutions!

Madison County, also served by French Broad EMC, will be considering the resolution at the April 18 Commissioners’ Meeting. Learn more about Appalachian Voices’ work in Madison County.

How$martKY is Benefitting Kentucky Communities

Fleming-Mason Energy Cooperative is one of five Kentucky co-ops that offers the How$martKY energy efficiency program to their members. The program, operated by Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, provides co-op members with the upfront cost of home energy upgrades, which the members then repay through a charge on their electric bill. It turns out that choosing to offer How$martKY has been a smart move, both for Fleming-Mason and its members as well as local economic development, according to an article from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. See how the community is benefitting!

White House Proposes Cuts to Energy Efficiency Programs

On March 16th, the Trump Administration released its budget outline for the upcoming year. In addition to cutting funding for labor and environmental programs, the proposal included a complete gutting of the federal Weatherization Assistance Program and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Together, these two programs provide critical weatherization and bill payment assistance to low-income families across the U.S., saving residents hundreds of dollars a year on energy costs and supporting thousands of local jobs in rural and low-income communities. Contact your legislators to ask them to protect these two programs as they work through the budget process!

What We’re Reading

Broadband for Holston Electric Cooperative Member-Owners
Holston Electric Cooperative member-owners want access to high speed internet, if the three standing-room only public meetings held by the electric cooperative in early March are any indication. Holston Electric, which covers portions of Hawkins, Hamblin, and Greene counties in East Tennessee, is looking into providing broadband services pending the approval of state legislation that would allow electric cooperatives to compete with traditional internet and cable providers. HEC General Manager Jimmy Sandlin stated that they needed to have support from 80% of the cooperative’s 30,455 member-owners to proceed with the project. Learn more about Holston Electric Cooperative’s broadband efforts here. If you are a member of Holston Electric Cooperative who is interested in better internet access go here to have your voice heard.

Powell Valley Members Accuse Co-op of Excessive Herbicide Use
A group of citizens in Sharps Chapel, TN believe that excessive spraying of herbicides by Powell Valley Electric Cooperative in June of 2016 has caused major health problems for them and their pets. Residents report that they have experienced painful rashes and kidney issues. PVEC General Manager, Randell Meyers denies that these health issues were caused by the spraying of herbicides. However, on March 10th of 2017, a couple from Sharps Chapel filed a civil lawsuit claiming that Powell Valley Electric Cooperative was negligent in its use of toxic chemicals to clear brush from the cooperative’s electric poles. For more on the Sharps Chapel residents’ story, check out this article.

Tips and Resources

Monthly Energy Efficiency Tip!

Everyone knows that April showers bring May flowers, but they can also result in energy savings if you switch your showerhead to a low-flow model! Low-flow, high-pressure showerheads reduce the amount of hot water used, saving water AND energy.

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


  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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