Volunteer Energy Leads the Way

Guest Blog | March 4, 2013 | Energy Efficiency, Utilities

Members of Volunteer Energy Cooperative should be pleased with their efforts, as their Cooperative is leading the way on energy efficiency among the power distributors served by TVA. Late last year VEC, at the urging of their members, sent a letter to the Tennessee Valley Authority supporting a goal to reduce residential load by 1% with energy efficiency.

The letter asks TVA to reexamine its energy efficiency programs with an eye towards reducing program costs and making the programs easier for the power distributor, such as VEC, to implement. VEC pointed out that power distributors have a wealth of experience in offering efficiency programs at the grass roots level. We hope that TVA can make use of this expertise at VEC and at other distributors to improve TVA’s portfolio of energy efficiency programs.

VEC Letter to TVA

VEC is the seventh largest distributor in TVA’s service territory, serving more than 200,000 residents in 17 counties. VEC stretches from the northern border of Tennessee at Pickett County to the southern border in Bradley County. VEC is a cooperative; its customers own it. VEC’s member-owners participate in the open election of board members and they have a say in how the cooperative is operated. A group of VEC’s member-owners met with the VEC President and CEO, Rody Blevins, to urge VEC to pursue this energy efficiency goal.

The cooperative members asking for the 1% energy reduction are members of the Sierra Club’s Tennessee Healthy Energy Campaign. SACE supports and participates in the Tennessee Healthy Energy Campaign. The campaign encourages members of cooperative and municipal utilities to speak up about energy efficiency. The goal is to motivate municipal and cooperative utility members to tell their utility to urge TVA to set a 1% annual energy efficiency target and to invest energy dollars in efficiency. This will create jobs, lower energy prices, and it will be an important step in protecting our climate.

SACE and other organizations have been focusing on a 1% energy savings goal. Take a look at this blog post, “Could TVA Achieve 1% Energy Efficiency?” by Natalie Mims. We’ve been trying to encourage this goal for several reasons. For one thing, it’s definitely doable. TVA’s own study on the potential for energy efficiency savings shows that a 1% goal is within reach. Several states around the U.S. have already achieved this 1% goal. The 1% goal will also have a real impact. TVA projects that, without utility efficiency programs, energy used in the valley will grow by about 1% annually. If we can reach an efficiency goal of 1% annually then we can offset all, or at least a big part, of that growth.

So congratulations to Volunteer Energy for its recommendation of a 1% goal. Let’s all encourage TVA to adapt this goal. Meanwhile, if you’re a member of the Volunteer Energy Cooperative, encourage them in their pursuit of energy efficiency.

If you’re not a member of VEC, you can still urge your distributor to do what VEC has done. You can get involved in the Tennessee Healthy Energy Campaign. You can call your distributor and ask them to follow Volunteer Energy Cooperative’s lead. You can demand that TVA set and reach a 1% annual energy savings goal.

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