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An Innovative Financing Tool That Makes Energy Efficiency Affordable

first_imgThis post originally appeared at Ensia. For customers of the Roanoke Electric Cooperative in rural North Carolina, high energy costs are much more than a pesky bill or a grudging expense. “We’re one of the poorest areas of the nation,” says Curtis Wynn, the cooperative’s president and CEO. “We have a lot of low-income individuals who are our members and, quite frankly, a major portion of their monthly budgets are consumed by paying their electricity bills.”RELATED ARTICLESCalifornia Approves a Pilot Program for Energy UpgradesWhy Do People Invest in Home Energy Upgrades?The FHA Problem with PACEHow to Sell Green Upgrades: Energy AuditsCalifornia Lenders Sued Over PACE Financing Wynn says he has seen monthly bills reach nearly $700. But high rates aren’t to blame. It’s often the homes themselves that are the problem. Drafty windows, leaky ducts and poor insulation are common, and that means that much of the heating and cooling it takes to keep them comfortable slips outside, leading customers to use much more energy than they should have to — an estimated 10% to 20%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The simple solution to this problem is an energy efficiency upgrade — patching leaks in ductwork, sealing the frames of windows, laying insulation in attics, replacing old heat pumps. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to about $8,000, but these interventions can result in energy savings over time that more than offset the expense. It’s a pragmatic investment that lowers costs in the long run. Such an investment, though, can be out of reach for low-income energy customers who have neither the cash to afford the upgrades nor the credit score necessary to borrow what they would cost. But with an innovative financing mechanism, electric utilities like the Roanoke Electric Cooperative are using their borrowing power to finance energy efficiency upgrades in homes at no upfront cost to their customers. “We’re helping the members lower their electricity consumption and ultimately their bills, and we’re lowering our costs for the power that we go out and purchase on their behalf,” says Wynn. Upgrade and save This is possible through what’s called tariffed on-bill financing. Using energy efficiency loans available from the federal government, utilities pay the upfront costs of upgrading a home’s energy efficiency and then amend that home’s newly lowered bill with a tariff charge that pays back the cost of the upgrade month by month. The key to making it work is that the tariff is calculated so the customer’s bill is always lower than it was before the upgrade. About 80% of the monthly savings go toward paying off the cost of the upgrade, and the rest goes to cutting the customer’s costs. In other words, they reimburse the utility for the cost of the upgrades and still pay less for energy each month than they did before the improvements were made. The Roanoke Electric Cooperative program, Upgrade to $ave, is administered by EEtility, an Arkansas-based B corporation that works with utilities to perform energy audits on homes, prescribe efficiency upgrades, and coordinate the contractors that implement them. Tammy Agard, the company’s co-founder, calls this approach a win-win-win that benefits residents, utilities, and the environment. Unlike most debt-based energy efficiency upgrade programs, the tariff-based model links the monthly charges to the address and not the customer, allowing renters to have their energy costs lowered through upgrades without necessarily paying the full cost for them if they move. After the upgrade is paid off, the tariff is lifted and the utility bill associated with that address becomes even lower. This approach, known as “Pay As You Save” and originally developed by the Energy Efficiency Institute in Vermont, has been licensed for use at utilities around the country, from California to Ohio to New Hampshire. “This is an all-inclusive model,” Agard says. “There’s nobody from the brain surgeon to the person cleaning the floor at the hospital who can’t participate in this program.” In 2018, Agard was named a Champion of Energy Efficiency by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for EEtility’s work helping low-income residents in rural electric cooperatives like Roanoke. Increasingly common, but barriers remain Such on-bill financing programs are increasingly common. Because it’s cheaper for utilities to improve energy efficiency than to build more energy production capacity — and because many states now require them to — utilities have initiated a variety of efficiency upgrade options, including utility-financed loans that tend to raise customers’ bills and programs that pay back upgrade costs through a line item on annual property tax bills. But these efforts haven’t pushed the masses to make energy efficiency upgrades. “It’s a challenging area,” says Martin Kushler, a senior fellow at the ACEEE. He’s been reviewing utility energy efficiency programs across the country since 2003, and says that even though programs are improving, adoption rates for energy upgrades remain low. “While you can pencil out the fact that these improvements are cost-effective in terms of the energy that they save over time, there’s a lot of what we call market barriers to people taking action.” These include financing, lack of time, concerns about dealing with contractors, and a scarcity of information about which programs a customer can use. “Well-designed programs have features that address each of those aspects,” Kushler says. For Wynn at the Roanoke Electric Cooperative, EEtility’s approach checks all those boxes. So far, more than 400 of the cooperative’s 14,000-plus members have received upgrades through the program, and about 1,500 have expressed interest in participating. “We’re getting inquiries every day,” he says. The biggest challenge, Wynn says, is that some homes are in such rough shape that the investment in an energy efficiency upgrade can’t be justified. Even so, he expects to work with EEtility on at least another 500 upgrades within the next few years. EEtility is now working with three utilities in the U.S. and is in talks with about a dozen more. Most are rural electricity cooperatives serving low-income customers, but Agard says this approach to energy efficiency upgrades can work in any market. “We have a program that absolutely can be scaled across the country,” she says. “Because if it’s providing services for our most vulnerable populations then why couldn’t it provide services for everyone?”last_img read more

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The Sound of Your Phone Not Ringing

first_img Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now That silence you hear is the sound of your phone not ringing.Maybe you don’t want to pick up the phone and make your calls. Maybe you think you should have enough inbound to keep you busy. Maybe you believe social selling is going to generate more than enough leads.Maybe you believe that the guys and girls in product are supposed to design products that people clamor for. Maybe you believe that marketing is supposed to craft the irresistible offer. Maybe you believe that your prospects are supposed to beat a path to your door.I know one company that has so many inbound leads now that their management reached out to tell me that they’re scared that their sales force has completely lost any ability (and all willingness) to prospect on their own. That isn’t your company, is it? And it isn’t going to be.Today I am at Dreamforce and some cat named David shows up at my table while I am eating lunch to interrupt me and hand me a slick, four-color, glossy card about his company. Then he hands me another card which is an invitation to see a demo at a fancy restaurant tomorrow. David doesn’t have the money for the big booth. So David goes guerrilla.You might be unhappy with David interrupting your lunch. You might be put off by the idea of hustling people into a lunch somewhere to pitch them. But David isn’t, and over time, David just might beat you. David knows his phone isn’t ringing, and he is acting accordingly.last_img read more

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ESPN Anchor Bob Ley Retires After 40 Years With Network

first_imgBob Ley, a fixture at ESPN since the network’s launch 40 years ago, has decided to step away.The 64-year-old Ley announced his retirement Wednesday. He said during a phone interview that he made the decision late last month and started calling close friends and colleagues Tuesday with the news.Ley had been on sabbatical since last September. He was supposed to return in March but told the network he needed more time.“The company was understanding and I couldn’t have asked for more,” Ley said. “It was a constant process (in reaching a decision). When you step away and reassess things, life assumes a different contour where it is not to-the-second deadlines ruling your life and sometimes a personality.“There’s a heavy emotional component to all of it, but I am managing it.”Ley was ESPN’s longest-tenured anchor, joining “SportsCenter” on the channel’s third day of operation on Sept. 9, 1979.“Outside the Lines” reporter and anchor Jeremy Schaap found out about Ley’s departure when he received a call about doing a career retrospective on Ley for Wednesday’s show. Schaap has known Ley for more than 25 years, dating to when he started at ESPN as a producer for “Outside the Lines.”“I think the sabbatical for Bob was a trial run. He liked his freedom,” he said. “The past couple years, though, he was better than he has ever been before. He could show us not only his reporting chops but also his thoughts and opinions. That fourth wall was breaking down and it benefited the viewers.”Ley hosted the first NCAA selection show and the inaugural live broadcast of the NFL draft in 1980. He also anchored many of sports biggest news stories over the past 40 years, including the Boston Marathon bombing and the death of Muhammad Ali.He also provided the first live national reports during the earthquake in San Francisco at the 1989 World Series.The investigative program “Outside the Lines” will be Ley’s legacy at the network. It started as a series of specials, became a weekly show in 2000 and then began airing daily three years later.On “Outside the Lines,” Ley led reporting on concussions and the NFL’s handling of domestic violence cases. The show also gave extensive coverage to the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse findings at Penn State, which resulted in the resignation of coach Joe Paterno, and former U.S. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s history of sexual abuse.“Outside the Lines” has received four Edward R. Murrow Awards and two Peabody Awards.“Bob has been our North Star and always kept us going in the right direction,” said NFL studio host Chris Berman, who joined ESPN one month after it went on the air. “He kept us honest. When you watched him you knew what you were getting and you were getting it straight.“I know he is very at ease and at peace with his decision. He’s earned it.”Ley, who won 11 Sports Emmy Awards, was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame this week. He said he plans to work with Seton Hall University, his alma mater, in retirement as well as continue to mentor young journalists.“I am proud of what we have built with ‘Outside The Lines.’ The only thing that serves the viewer is a fair and honest show,” he said.He also appreciates having been a part of ESPN for so long.“I’m proudest of being at the ground floor of something that has become an American cultural institution,” he said. “I don’t think you can write the cultural history of the United States over the past 40 years without being a chapter on sports and this entity, which is now a global model.”By: Joe Reedy, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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