Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 12, 2014

Study points to need for home energy efficiency

CROSSVILLE — A recent study by Appalachian Voices, which mapped the correlation between poverty in the Southeast and the burden of electric bills, has proposed new programs that can help electric customers reduce their costs.

But those proposals aren't without challenges, Volunteer Energy Cooperative, says, noting no federal legislation has been enacted to allow such programs.

VEC reminds customers it does have resources available to help homeowners shore up their home's efficiency.

"We currently offer several programs to assist our customers with energy efficiency improvements and to provide properly secured heat pump financing," said Rody Blevins, VEC president and CEO, in a statement on the study.

The study pointed to average annual electric bills of customers of rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities across the Southeast. The rural electric customers spent a greater percentage of household income on electricity costs, the study found, than customers of the other types of utility systems. The study only looked at electric costs, not other types of energy, such as natural gas or propane.

"Much of this burden is due to the fact that many homes lack proper insulation, are poorly weatherized and use old, inefficient appliances, resulting in significant energy waste," wrote Rory McIlmoil, energy policy director for Appalachian Voices, in the report.

Often, the report states, the cost of weatherization upgrades or appliance upgrades prevents low-income customers from making improvements that would provide long-term savings on electric use and costs. Appalachian Voices has proposed On-Bill Home Energy Loan and Tariff Programs, or "on-bill financing." With on-bill financing, utilities finance the full cost of home energy efficiency improvements and the customer repays the utility through an extra charge on the monthly electric bill, using all or a portion of the savings that are achieved by the upgrades.

Only a few such programs exist in the Southeast, the report states, and many are in need of additional funding to be fully developed.

"Fortunately, new federal loan programs are developing that will provide funding to public power utilities for the purpose of developing residential energy efficiency programs," the report states.

This includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. However, each utility is responsible for taking advantage of this program.

Blevins said in his statement, "As the program has been presented to us, however, we have some serious reservations. Our primary concern is that currently there is no provisions that are allowable under Tennessee state law for us to properly secure these loans and protect all of our ratepayers from having to foot the bill for any of these loans that go into default."

VEC offers a free in-home energy evaluation program, which helped more than 600 VEC customers make energy efficiency upgrades in 2013 alone.

Under the program, customers call VEC to request a free in-home energy evaluation. A trained energy evaluator will complete the inspection. The homeowner decides which improvements will be made and selects a TVA/VEC-qualified weatherization contractor to complete the work. The homeowner will pay for the work, though some weatherization projects can be completed by the homeowner. A follow-up inspection is completed and receipts are submitted to VEC for reimbursement. The program allows for reimbursement of up to 50 percent of qualifying expenses, with a maximum rebate of $500.

Time limits do apply. Improvements based on the evaluation need to be completed within 90 days of the initial evaluation. The program is available to those who have had permanent VEC electric service for at least one year and the residence must be a manufactured or stick-built permanent home. Homeowners and owners of rental properties are eligible.

Examples of projects that are eligible for rebates include replacement of windows, adding attic insulation, air sealing and HVAC tune up or repair. Homeowner-installed improvements such as caulk or weather stripping are also eligible. The cooperative does not offer rebates or financing of other appliances, such as water heaters or refrigerators, or for installation of storm doors or insulated garage doors.

The cooperative also has $6 million in outstanding, secured heat pump loans that help VEC customers improve energy efficiency in their home and pay lower electric bills.

To learn more about the in-home energy evaluation, call VEC at 484-3527 in Crossville or the department of marketing and economic development at (423) 334-7053.

Appalachian Voices is an environmental non-profit organization committed to protecting the natural resources of central and southern Appalachia headquartered in Boone, NC, with offices in Charlottesville, VA, Knoxville, TN, and Washington, DC.

Text Only
Area News
  • state park bath house.jpg Historic CMSP bathhouse gets new use with renovation

    When a new pool was constructed at Cumberland Mountain State Park in the 1980s, the beach area was converted to a quiet place to watch the water and the bath house was boarded up.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cole dismissed from teaching position

    The Cumberland County Board of Education voted 8-1 to dismiss tenured special education teacher Stephanie Cole, who remains at the Cumberland County Jail without bond charged with the July 20 fatal shooting of Louis Tammaro Jr.

    July 29, 2014

  • Crash sends one to jail, cyclist to UT

    A crash involving a motorcycle and a pickup truck resulted in one man being flown to a regional trauma center and the second man being arrested after he fled the scene, Crossville Police reported.

    July 29, 2014

  • County to include more meeting info on web site

    Cumberland County commissioners approved a change in the commission's rules which requires the full package of materials supplied to the commissioners to be posted on the county's web site.

    July 29, 2014

  • jobless june.jpg County jobless rate up for June

    County unemployment rates for June 2014 show the rate increased in all 95 counties of Tennessee. In Cumberland County, the jobless rate rose from 7.4 percent in May to 8.3 percent for June.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • lver-greg morris.jpg New veterans rep joins Career Center staff

    The Tennessee Career Center in Crossville now has more resources available to assist veterans seeking employment. The center recently hired Gregory Morris as a local veterans employment representative (LVER) to work with both unemployed veterans as well as employers seeking job applicants.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richard Lemert.jpg Lemert pays visit to Crossville

    Richard Milo Lemert, (left) great nephew of Milo Lemert of Crossville, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, is pictured with L.T. Thurman Jr. It was Richard Lemert's first visit to Crossville and during his brief stay, he stopped by the Milo Lemert Building on Main St. and viewed the plaque that was placed in honor of his great uncle. Milo Lemert was married to Nell Snodgrass of Crossville and was killed in action on their first wedding anniversary. Thurman's father, Litton T. Thurman Sr., received the Distinguished Service Cross in the same WWI battle that Lemert was awarded the nation's highest honor. Richard Lemert resides in Raleigh, NC, and is planning to attend the Medal of Honor Convention in Knoxville Sept. 10-13.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_2558.jpg Understanding the structure of addiction and recovery

    Bradford Health Services hosted a free workshop Friday for area agencies on the structure of addiction and recovery. Robbie Keeble who is recovery liaison for Bradford, was the featured speaker. With rates of substance abuse so prevalent in the Crossville area, several local agencies arranged to instruct participants on how addiction works in the brain and the process that those struggling with addiction need to take in order to recover successfully. There were 94 attendees in all, including several social service agencies, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, businesses and concerned citizens. If you are interested in attending or hosting a future training on matters related to substance abuse, contact Bradford Health Services at (931) 528-6803.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • TMSAA rules get one-year try out

    Changes are coming for the elementary sports programs next year, with a 6-3 vote of the Cumberland County Board of Education. That vote of support of recommendations from the athletic committee was met with concerns from board members that the move towards county-wide rules and regulations was an attempt to move toward middle school teams.

    July 28, 2014 1 Video

  • ffg fire 1.jpg Fire damages home in Fairfield Glade

    Not only did Fairfield Glade volunteer fire fighters battle a blaze Saturday afternoon at 107 Runnymede Rd., hot weather conditions were a challenge as well.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014