Co-op files environmental goals plan
Monday, October 20, 2008 12:41 PM EDT
Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation has filed its plan with North Carolina’s Public Utilities Commission for achieving the goals of the state’s new Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS).
The North Carolina General Assembly was the first in the Southeast to enact such a law in August 2007. REPS requires all utilities to obtain at least ten to 12 percent of their electricity from renewable resources, including energy efficiency measures, by the year 2018. For cooperatives, the goal is 10 percent; for investor owned utilities, the goal is 12.5 percent.
As a member-owned electric cooperative, Blue Ridge Electric’s plan focuses on balancing consumer costs with implementing effective plans to achieve the REPS goals and improving the environment. The cooperative’s plan includes a major energy efficiency campaign and significant increase in solar technology utilization.
Some of the following energy efficiency programs planned by the cooperative could be available in 2009 while others will take longer to develop:
�Energy Efficient Lighting: Replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) is one of the easiest and most economical changes every consumer can make. CFLs use 75 percent less energy, put out less heat, and last 10 times longer. The cooperative has already distributed thousands of CFLs to assist in this effort.
�Water Heating Efficiency Programs: Water heating reflects a large portion of an electric bill. Plans call for programs to market devices that would increase heating efficiency and reduce water consumption such as low-flow shower heads and water heater insulation.
�Weatherization Campaign: Heating and cooling costs are significant portions of any power bill. Duct sealing and proper home insulation are keys to achieving energy efficiency and controlling heating and air conditioning costs. A community weatherization effort is planned to help ensure more homes are weatherized through adequate insulation and duct sealing efforts.
�Promoting Solar Energy: The cooperative is currently studying a solar program that would include photovoltaics and commercial and residential water heating.
�Energy Cost Monitor: Providing real-time feedback to members about their energy use and its cost in their home can be a powerful management tool. This program would include offering members a small countertop display unit that reflects this information and works with the cooperative’s automated metering system.
As an electricity distribution cooperative, Blue Ridge Electric is also coordinating with its wholesale power supplier, Duke Energy, to ensure its power supply portfolio includes sources from renewable energy. The cooperative’s contract for federal hydropower with Southeastern Power Administration also reflects renewable energy in its wholesale power supply.
Blue Ridge Electric’s goal is to implement cost effective ideas while providing members with effective energy efficiency programs that reflect our environmental stewardship and meet the REPS requirements for a sustainable energy future.
Blue Ridge Electric serves some 73,000 member-owners in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Alexander, and Wilkes counties.