(L-R) NRECA CEO Glenn English, Mike Couick of The Electric Cooperatives of S.C. and Ray Beavers of United Cooperative Services joined Energy Secretary Steve Chu (far right) and others at an administration event.
Photo credit: Marty Haught
Electric co-ops will play a prominent role in "Recovery Through Retrofit," a major energy efficiency program that Obama administration officials announced Nov. 9.
Recovery Through Retrofit will make it easy for middle-class homeowners to learn what efficiency upgrades their homes need, and then get financing to make the improvements. One of the program’s cornerstones is the Home Energy Score, which Energy Secretary Steven Chu said will help standardize home energy audits.
United Cooperative Services, Hoosier Energy and The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina are among the DOE partners that will test and evaluate the Home Energy Score between now and mid-2011.
Homeowners will receive the score plus a list of recommended improvements and the estimated savings that could result.
"What we see from a cooperative perspective is an opportunity to have a program that is potentially going to give a unified effort for dealing with home energy retrofits or energy efficiencies. And also potential funding that we can access for our members," said Ray Beavers, general manager/CEO of Cleburne, Texas-based United Cooperative Services. Beavers told ECT.coop that the need for retrofits is "dire" not only in his co-op’s service territory but nationwide.
Mike Couick, CEO of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, sees the chance to educate homeowners.
Sample report presenting the results of an energy audit using the new Home Energy Score (Graphic By: DOE)
"Another barrier to energy efficiency retrofit choices by consumers is do they understand what their options are. Do they have confidence that they’re going to be done right?" Couick said. He believes the standardized reports generated by the Home Energy Score will help.
At Hoosier Energy, Tom Van Paris, manager of marketing and member services, said the program "ties in somewhat nicely to some things that we’re already doing." The Bloomington, Ind.-based G&T already has a weatherization program, working in conjunction with its distribution co-ops.
"We have a network of certified technicians that we use," Van Paris said. "Those same kinds of credentials of the people that do some of the initial diagnostics are already certified toward what the government requires to do their program."
Vice President Joe Biden said audits using the Home Energy Score would "cost less than half a typical assessment now, which is about $400."
Excerpted from an article by Michael W. Kahn on ECT.coop.