New Program for an Old Problem

By Lu Nelsen, Center for Rural Affairs

For many rural folks, colder weather means higher energy costs. It’s the time of year when energy efficiency and conservation can make the biggest difference. As you search for ways to save money while keeping the house warm, consider taking a long look at your local utility.
That’s because Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the first loans under a new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. These loans can be used by rural electric cooperatives across the country to invest in techniques and technologies that can reduce energy use.
The best part? Interest rates for these loans are some of the lowest available. By financing energy efficiency and conservation at such affordable rates, this program creates new economic opportunities. That can mean a lot to small businesses and rural communities alike.
The first to take advantage are the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative and Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation. North Arkansas Electric Coop will use this funding to expand their energy efficiency program, providing funds for energy efficient lighting, insulation, a geothermal installation, weatherization, and other energy saving measures. Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation will now finance appliance, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system replacements for residential consumers.
This program is a big deal. One of the most common problems folks run into when considering an energy efficiency or renewable energy project is a lack of affordable funding. This makes financing available to help people in rural areas invest in projects that keep the house warm while putting money back into their community.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.