Author Archives: Marilynn Marsh-Robinson

Rural Electric Cooperatives Improve Energy Efficiency with On-Bill Financing

carolina-houseMost Americans think their electricity comes from large power companies. In North Carolina, my home state, that might mean Duke Energy or Dominion Resources. But did you know that 42 million people in 47 states get their electricity from electric cooperatives? These member-owned electric utilities were first formed back in the 1930s to provide electricity to people living in rural areas and small towns.

Today, there are more than 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Their mission remains the same today as it did back then: deliver safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to rural families and businesses.

In rural areas, housing and commercial buildings tend to be older and less energy efficient, increasing energy bills. Often energy efficiency improvements, such as insulation, are overlooked when residents are faced with hard decisions about where to spend money.

Plus, qualifying for a loan to finance efficiency improvements is more difficult in economically distressed rural areas. Addressing this reality poses a significant challenge for electric cooperatives, which serve 93 percent of the nation’s persistent-poverty counties, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative AssociationRead More »

Posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, North Carolina| Read 2 Responses

Clean Energy Partnerships Grow between the U.S. Military and Rural Cooperatives

What do rural electric cooperatives have in common with United States military bases? They all want clean, reliable, affordable energy.

Rural electric cooperatives are not-for-profit electric utilities that provide reliable, at-cost electricity to their members. They’re ingrained in the American landscape: more than 900 rural cooperatives serve more than 42 million customers in 47 states, accounting for 12 percent of all U.S. electricity sales. Because of their market share and core mission to provide affordable, “at-cost” electricity, co-ops represent a huge (and largely untapped) clean energy opportunity. One way they’re starting to tap this potential is through partnerships with local military bases.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), which operates more than 300 domestic bases, is federally mandated to lower its energy consumption – and for good reason. The DoD is our nation’s largest single energy user, and as a result, has committed to expanding its clean energy portfolio to cut energy use. Each military service has ambitious goals to deploy one gigawatt of on-site renewables in the near future, and many are jump-starting these efforts on bases across the United States. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Military, New Jersey, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

Adding to the Clean Energy Chorus: Voices of Faith

man-pixabayDiverse groups are creating a healthy dialogue on climate change and clean energy. In addition to ethnicity, diversity includes geographical representation, political affiliation, socio-economic backgrounds – and religious beliefs.

One notable group, Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), is mobilizing millions of people of faith to be better stewards of energy and the environment. Founded in 1998, IPL now has chapters in more than 40 states and represents 15,000 congregations. IPL works with congregations to promote energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and the impacts of climate change.

In addition to clean energy advocacy, IPL recognizes that public policies – local, state and federal – play a pivotal role in reducing reliance on fossil fuels and expanding energy choices. IPL rightly focuses attention on communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, advocating for strong adaptation and mitigation actions to protect all communities – from the coast to the heartland. These communities, which are least responsible for activities and decisions that adversely impact the climate, suffer the most. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, General, Renewable Energy| Read 1 Response

National Program Aims to Expand Minority Participation in Energy Sector

EDF Climate Corps fellow Olivia Moreno uncovers ways to increase energy efficiency at University of Texas at El Paso.

EDF Climate Corps fellow Olivia Moreno uncovers ways to increase energy efficiency at University of Texas at El Paso.

It's no secret that minorities are underrepresented in the energy field.

In the United States, Hispanics, African Americans, and American Indians make up 24 percent of the overall workforce, yet only account for nine percent of the country’s science and engineering workforce.

An initiative called Minorities in Energy (MIE) aims to change those numbers. It is creating a sustainable model that identifies diverse stakeholders to address challenges and opportunities for underrepresented communities in the growing energy economy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, and climate change.

Launched a year ago by the U.S. Department of Energy, MIE has built an impressive list of ambassadors and partnerships. Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz puts it this way:

"We can only be successful in achieving our energy goals if we are inclusive of America's diverse communities." Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Equity, Renewable Energy| Tagged | Comments are closed

USDA Loan Improves Energy Efficiency in Rural North Carolina

carolina houseA rural electric cooperative in North Carolina is one of the first in the country to receive funds from a new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on-bill finance program that will help customers improve energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and reduce carbon pollution. Roanoke Electric Membership Cooperative, which serves 14,ooo rural customers, is in my home state.

Roanoke Electric’s membership base is similar to other economically distressed rural areas, which have a growing elderly population and residents with homes that need energy-saving upgrades.

The cooperative diligently promotes energy efficiency, yet there are still customers with utility bills that are higher than their mortgage payments some months. Securing upfront capital to finance home improvements can be challenging. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, North Carolina, On-bill repayment| Read 1 Response

Policy Change is Key to Meeting UNC Clean Energy Goals

Source: Caroline Culler

Source: Caroline Culler

Take thousands of people, put them on a college campus – and watch the energy and water usage spike. That's what happens in the fall at universities across the country when students flood back to classrooms and dorms.

The nation's oldest public university system is keeping a keen eye on utility meters. The University of North Carolina (UNC) is on its way to reducing energy and water use by 30 percent by 2015.

Also noteworthy is UNC's goal for 2050, when the university's 17 campuses aim to be carbon neutral.

Slowing down UNC's progress are North Carolina statutory restrictions that make it difficult for campuses to finance and use their own renewable energy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, North Carolina, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed
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