EESI and NCBA CLUSA Announce Partnership for Advancing an Inclusive Rural Energy Economy
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November 14, 2017—The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) today announced their new Partnership for Advancing an Inclusive Rural Energy Economy. The Partnership will put more money in the pockets of people in rural communities by supporting rural electric cooperatives (co-ops) in developing on-bill financing programs for energy efficiency upgrades, community projects in solar, and clean energy storage.
The end goal is to reduce energy costs, improve reliability and comfort, and increase efficiency in rural households across the country. The Partnership was made possible through a one-year, $150,000 grant from the New York Community Trust (NYCT).
“On-bill financing” gives electric co-op members and other utility customers the ability to finance energy improvements that are repaid over time on their energy bill. This convenient approach is an exciting opportunity to expand clean energy access to more homes and businesses. Because “on-bill” financing programs can be designed to be cash-flow positive and to use bill payment history instead of credit scores, many on-bill programs can successfully serve lower-income families who are unable to take advantage of rebate programs or traditional financing.
“On-bill financing means more money in the pockets of rural households,” says EESI Executive Director Carol Werner. “On-bill financing makes it much easier and cheaper for households to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, which helps them save money. It makes their homes more comfortable, and creates local jobs. Electric co-ops have been innovative leaders of this approach over the past decade, and there is enormous potential to grow: there are more than 900 electric co-ops across the country. EESI has been actively supporting on-bill financing since 2010. We’ve helped develop federal loan opportunities that allow rural electric cooperatives to pursue on-bill programs.”
“Cooperatives are the best way to make sure this program reaches those who need it most,” stated Doug O’Brien, executive vice president of programs at NCBA CLUSA. “Rural electric co-ops, as member-owned entities, are uniquely organized to always put their members first. With growing opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy, cooperatives are the way to make sure that people have access to these cutting edge solutions.”
“The 42 million Americans served by rural electric co-ops should have an opportunity to be part of the clean energy revolution,” says Arturo Garcia-Costas, program officer for the environment at NYCT. “We need to support those who want to embrace technologies that can save money, protect the environment, and safeguard their family’s health.”
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 EERE’s Office of Strategic Programs; he also served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council. Cross has led EESI’s On-Bill Financing Project for the past six years.
The New York Community Trust grant uses funds from its Henry Phillip Kraft Family Memorial Fund and its Oakey L. and Ethel Witherspoon Alexander Fund.