The Upgrade to $ave Program provides Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) and its customers with a simple yet powerful energy-efficiency-financing product. To date, the program has performed much better than expected. Average realized savings have been on the order of 50% of the average electricity bill prior to the installation of the upgrades.
The program uses the PAYS® framework. PAYS® is an on-bill-financing solution developed by Clean Energy Works (CEW), an organization founded by Dr. Holmes Hummel, who served as the Senior Policy Advisor in the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Policy & International Affairs from 2009 to 2013.
CEW approached REC with a win-win proposal describing how PAYS® could help build the local economy while providing cost savings, energy efficiency, and financial returns. Addressing socioeconomic and skills issues in the area is a high priority for local stakeholders.
The program has been successfully resolving the issues related to information technology, skills development, staff availability, and resource access that it faced initially. Its approach has included on-the-job training for contractors and other staff. Partnering with an organization that assists with implementation has made it easier for REC to run the program.
Other rural regions with electric cooperatives could leverage a similar combination to create a stakeholder collaboration supported by USDA funding.