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May 13, 2010

A Bill To Help Rural Residents Finance Energy Efficiency Improvements Considered at Federal Level

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 13, 2010 01:02 PM
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An important step to achieving a clean and economically viable future for rural electric cooperatives, their member-customers, and their local economies will be the establishment of “on-bill financing” programs which will help overcome the up-front costs of implementing energy efficiency and weatherization measures.

 

The Rural Energy Savings Program Act

(S. 3102 / H.R. 4785)

 

On March 10, 2010, the Rural Energy Savings Program Act was introduced in Congress. The bill was introduced in both the House and the Senate with bipartisan support.

Under the new program proposed by the bill, the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will create a $4.9 billion loan program available to cooperatives with a zero percent interest rate. Cooperatives in turn will make this money available to consumer members in the form of micro-loans with an interest rate of no more than 3 percent, which can be paid back primarily through savings on their electric bills. This type of loan program is called “on-bill financing” because the loan payments would be made right on the utility bill. Another key component is that the loan would stay with the real property (i.e. the electric meter) rather than with the utility customer.

 

Bipartisan co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill (S. 3102) include Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Michael Bennett (D-CO).

 

A companion bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4785), was introduced by Representatives James Clyburn (D-SC), Tom Perriello (D-VA), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and John Spratt (D-SC).

 

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is supporting the two bills, and you can find more information on their website.

 

Why this bill is important and its implications for Appalachia

 

The East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) is a non-profit electric utility that provides power to 16 rural electric cooperatives across 87 Kentucky counties and is currently in the permitting process for the proposed construction of a new coal‐burning power plant in Clark County, KY, called the Smith plant. About half of the counties served by EKPC are in Appalachia, and about a quarter are coal-producing counties. Many of these are some of the most economically distressed counties in the nation.

 

A recent report commissioned by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky Environmental Foundation, and the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club found that an investment in a combination of energy efficiency, weatherization, hydropower and wind power initiatives in the region would generate more than 8,750 new jobs for Kentucky residents, with a total impact of more than $1.7 billion on the region’s economy over the next three years. This alternative approach would meet the energy needs of EKPC customers at a lower cost than the proposed coal plant.

 

Federal and state policies that make possible on-bill financing for the energy efficiency and weatherization portion of the alternative are important steps toward a clean energy future for EKPC co-ops and their members. Passage of the Rural Energy Savings Program Act is integral to this future, and the jobs and positive economic impact it will bring.

 

 

Funding Opportunities for EE/RE Projects and Training

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 13, 2010 02:00 PM

Several funding opportunities in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy are currently available!  See below for details:


EE/RE JOB TRAINING FUNDS:


Kentucky Home Performance is offering incentives to contractors who participate in an upcoming training to become certified through the national Building Performance Institute. The training will be held May 24th-26th in Louisville. In order to be eligible to work as a contractor doing EE/RE on residential properties through the Ky Home Performance program, you must be BPI-certified.

 

Training incentives include:
    •    $1,000 available for up to 80% of the cost of training & certification to obtain BPI training for Building Analyst Certification for the first 100 contractors or home auditors trained under the program
    •    $2,000 available for equipment purchases up to 80% of the cost of qualified equipment for the first 50 contractors or companies participating in the KY Home Performance program. Terms and conditions apply.


Visit www.kyhomeperformance.org for more information.

 

EE/RE ENERGY PROJECT FUNDS:

 

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. ARC just announced the fourth round of a grant competition this week to assist Appalachian communities in leveraging renewable-energy and energy-efficiency resources to revitalize their economies. ARC expects to provide eight to ten awards of up to $75,000 each, for a total of $545,000 in awards, to successful applicants.

 

Aims of the grants may include -
    •    Preparation and adoption of a community energy plan by a local government jurisdiction.
    •    Implementation of a renewable-energy or energy-efficiency project such as:
    •    Production and/or use of renewable energy, including biofuels, biomass, solar, or wind energy, to include local siting of production facilities.
    •    Distribution of renewable energy, to include customer purchasing commitments.
    •    Expansion or start-up of "clean energy" businesses, including support for business incubation programs or targeted business financing programs.
    •    New construction or renovations that follow "green building" and LEED certification guidelines.
    •    Installation of energy-efficiency equipment in public or nonprofit facilities.
Nonprofit organizations, government entities, and public education institutions located within the Appalachian Region are eligible to apply. Private, for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.

Visit www.arc.gov/energy for more information.

***
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced a call for proposals related to innovative, scalable strategies for energy efficiency retrofit programs or policies that address the existing building stock in the United States.


Funding priorities include but are not limited to sustainable and scalable business models for implementing energy efficiency retrofits; policies or programs that seek to advance aggregation of disparate or fragmented opportunities in energy efficiency retrofits to increase the energy savings potential; innovative financing models and other mechanisms to ease upfront costs of efficiency improvements or increase the attractiveness of investments in energy efficiency; policies or programs to secure greater energy efficient performance in buildings such as through benchmarking or improved operations and management; policies or programs to drive deep energy efficiency retrofits in existing buildings; policies or programs to address split incentives; and mechanisms to increase the effectiveness of and property owner participation in state, local, utility-sponsored, or privately-sponsored energy efficiency programs.

 

Proposals may be targeted to any particular barrier or segment of the buildings market (e.g., office, commercial, institutional, retail, residential, single-family, or multi-family). Research to help formulate programs or policies to address barriers is eligible as long as the path to implementation or adoption is clear.


The foundation will invite full proposals based on from pre-proposals, with grant l ranging from $100,000 to $350,000 each. Up to a total of $3 million in grants will be awarded.
Applicants must be U.S. nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations.

 

Visit
http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/rfp/rfp_item.jhtml?id=291600012 for more information.

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