Energy Exchange

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 »

Also posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing / Read 2 Responses

4 Reasons North Carolina Should Move Forward Despite the Clean Power Plan Hold

sunrise-224756_960_720In a surprise move this month, the U.S. Supreme Court “stayed” (or put a hold on) the Clean Power Plan, which sets common-sense carbon pollution standards for power plants, our nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. States can craft their own plans to meet the standards, including the deployment of renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and fuel switching. The Clean Power Plan also provides incentives for increasing energy efficiency in low-income areas.

About 20 states are moving ahead and continuing work on plans to curb carbon pollution and comply with the plan. Other states – including my home state of North Carolina – are challenging the plan’s implementation. This action is unfortunate because North Carolina will benefit from the plan on many levels, and studies show that compliance is not going to be a problem for North Carolina, as opponents claim. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Power Plan, Climate / Read 2 Responses

Clean Energy Can Help Tackle Rural Poverty

Growing up in eastern North Carolina was a great experience. Wayne County was my home, and I spent many weekends fishing for bass and hunting quail with my father on the family farm in nearby Bladen County. The time outdoors was great for character building, and visiting with relatives, friends, and elders in the community was equally important for understanding my heritage and the challenges my parents overcame.

You see, Bladen County is classified as a “persistent poverty county” by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, meaning the poverty rate has exceeded 20 percent of the population for the last 30 years. More than 25 percent of Bladen residents live in poverty. My family, friends, and elders were no exceptions. Despite the struggles, the personal connection to the land, water, and wildlife nourished and empowered the farming community.

When I joined Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) eight years ago, I seized the opportunity to find inclusive solutions to environmental problems. I started hunting for two different kinds of game: first, diversifying the traditional definition of environmental leadership and second, increasing access to clean, affordable energy for everyone. The two go hand-in-hand. Let me explain. Read More »

Also posted in EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, Solar Energy / Read 2 Responses

These 3 States Have a Head Start on the Clean Power Plan. You'd Never Guess Who They Are.

By: Keith Gaby

Everyone in Colorado skis, all Oklahomans can rope a calf, and native New Jerseyans like me all talk like Pauly D did onJersey Shore. Right?

You may also stereotype when it comes to clean energy: Progressive states such as California are pumping out clean, renewable energy while others insist on clinging to old, dirty power plants. Well, it’s more complicated than that.

California, which has a market-based system for cutting carbon pollution, does lead the country. But a number of states nationwide, including notably Nevada, Texas and North Carolina, are also making great progress on clean energy – which may surprise some.

Their success is evidence that the supposed divide on clean power may be more about politics than economics and opportunities on the ground.

And that bodes well for the federal Clean Power Plan’s goal of reducing emissions from America’s power plants. Because if Texas is well-positioned to comply, why couldn’t other states do the same? Read More »

Also posted in Clean Power Plan, Texas / Comments are closed

Another Tech Giant Supports North Carolina Renewable Energy Policies

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SAS Institute, Inc. – a North Carolina-Based technology company – has joined big names like
Apple, Facebook, and Google in a growing chorus of high-profile tech firms urging lawmakers to protect North Carolina’s burgeoning clean energy economy.

SAS told state lawmakers in a recent letter: “Technology companies value North Carolina’s existing energy policies, which enable us to operate and grow our businesses in a sustainable manner.”

At stake is North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from sources such as solar and wind by 2021.The REPS and other thoughtful clean energy policies have helped create new markets that are attracting investments, building businesses, and creating jobs. The results are impressive.

North Carolina’s clean energy industry is growing

Today, North Carolina’s clean energy industry includes more the 1,200 firms providing nearly 23,000 jobs. In 2014, the industry generated nearly $5 billion in gross revenues for the state’s economy.

Much like North Carolina’s world-class university system, the growing clean energy economy makes the state an attractive choice for business leaders who are looking for the right place to invest and grow their businesses. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

Corporate Giants Use their Power to Protect North Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

solar farmPop quiz: What do current and former executives at Apple, Facebook, Google, Bank of America, and Duke Energy have in common?

Answer: They all believe in expanding renewable energy in North Carolina, where the legislature proposes to gut the clean energy policies that have made the state a national leader in solar energy.

At stake is the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from sources such as solar and wind by 2021. Lawmakers want to freeze the target at six percent, which happens to be the current level.

Not so fast, say the tech giants

Apple, Facebook, and Google have data centers and other investments in North Carolina – and they are big supporters of clean energy in their industry. They made their position on the REPS perfectly clear in a recent letter to state lawmakers: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed