NCBA CLUSA and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute today announced a partnership they say will put more money in the pockets of rural Americans and spur broader clean energy adoption.
Called the Partnership for Advancing an Inclusive Rural Energy Economy, the program helps rural electric co-ops develop on-bill financing programs that finance energy efficiency upgrades and community projects in solar and clean energy storage at no upfront cost to their customers.
“Cooperatives are the best way to make sure this program reaches those who need it most,” said Doug O’Brien, executive vice president of programs at NCBA CLUSA. “Rural electric co-ops, as member-owned entities, are uniquely organized to put their members first. With growing opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy, cooperatives are the best way to make sure that people have access to these cutting-edge solutions.”
By giving electric co-op members and other utility customers the ability to finance energy efficiency improvements made to their homes and businesses over time, on-bill financing is an affordable way to integrate technology that ultimately reduces energy costs, improves reliability and increases efficiency.
And, with more than 900 electric co-ops nationwide, there is “enormous potential to grow,” EESI Executive Director Carol Werner said in a press release.
“On-bill financing means more money in the pockets of rural households,” Werner said. “It makes it much easier and cheaper for households to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, which helps save them money. It also makes their homes more comfortable and creates local jobs. Electric co-ops have been innovative leaders of this approach over the past decade.”
EESI has actively supported on-bill financing since 2010, according to the press release.
Because on-bill programs can be designed to be cash flow positive and use bill payment history instead of credit scores, they can successfully serve lower-income families unable to take advantage of rebate programs or traditional financing.
Made possible with a one-year, $150,000 grant from the New York Community Trust, the partnership’s leads are Jason Walsh for NCBA CLUSA and John-Michael Cross for EESI. Walsh was previously a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and the Director of theEERE’s Office of Strategic Programs; he also served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Cross has led EESI’s On-Bill Financing Project for the past six years.
The New York Community Trust grant consists of funds from its Henry Phillip Kraft Family Memorial Fund and its Oakey L. and Ethel Witherspoon Alexander Fund.
“The 42 million Americans served by rural electric co-ops should have an opportunity to be part of the clean energy revolution,” said Arturo Garcia-Costas, program officer for the Environment at the New York Community Trust.
An independent, nonprofit organization advancing innovative policy solutions to set the United States on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute educates policymakers, builds coalitions and develops policy in support of energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable biomass, sustainable buildings and sustainable transportation.
EESI was founded by a bipartisan Congressional caucus in 1984, and its strong relationship with Congress helps EESI serve as a trusted source of credible, non-partisan information on energy and environmental issues. The institute receives no congressional funding and is supported through contributions and grants.