The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is launching a new research initiative to get at the energy- and cost-saving opportunities in the 75% of U.S. territory considered to be rural.
“Just as rural and small-town America’s lifestyle is unique to its geography, so too are its energy, economic, and societal challenges, cueing the need for tailored energy efficiency programs,” writes ACEEE researcher and Truman Fellow Jill Ferguson.
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“Delivering energy efficiency programs is particularly challenging for any utility serving rural customers because low-population density may mean higher program cost per capita,” she adds in an ACEEE blog post. “Access to the technical and financial resources needed to design and implement tailored energy efficiency programs can be an obstacle for utilities serving rural areas, whether they are electric cooperatives (co-ops), municipal utilities (munis), or investor-owned utilities (IOUs).”
But Ferguson says she sees reason for hope: rural energy co-operatives and local energy stakeholders are already seeing benefits from energy efficiency programming, and the co-ops have a particular reason to pay attention: “It is in the co-op’s economic interest to help its members save energy, so it can spend less on power from the utility that charges high peak-time rates.”
The ACEEE initiative will look into the average and peak energy burden for rural households, the energy efficiency programs currently available, key barriers to program delivery, and solutions to those barriers.