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  • Two new energy programs offered

    Co-ops understand E – fficiency and putting members first

    Readers of these pages in recent months perhaps have read about (maybe even participated in) one of the E programs … HomE, FarmE and RenewE. These programs demonstrate first hand how we put co-op members first.

    More than 3,400 electric co-op members across Illinois know all about HomE. Through this program, they received energy assessments of their homes, followed by energy efficiency upgrade recommendations from experts at cooperatives across Illinois. In the end, well over 3,000 of these members received a HomE rebate in support of the efficiency upgrades they made to their homes.

    HomE was coordinated by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, which managed a $2.5 million State Energy Program grant that was part of federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. The program was managed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Division of Energy and Recycling.

    By any measure, HomE is the most successful statewide energy efficiency program in the history of Illinois electric cooperatives. The program will save incredible amounts of electricity, natural gas and propane – and money for co-op members – now and forever. HomE helped to put hundreds of Americans to work by incenting members to make efficiency upgrades. These projects totaled about $25 million, all across rural areas of Illinois.

    HomE is history. But it isn’t the end of co-op efficiency programs.

    If you need some energy efficiency advice about your home … call the experts at your cooperative. If you need energy efficiency advice for your farm or rural small business, call the co-op and ask about the FarmE program. Through this program, qualifying Illinois electric cooperative members can get a thorough and professional energy audit of their farm or small business – for a very nominal cost, usually $250 or less. The FarmE audit is available through the support of a $100,000 US Department of Agriculture grant through the Rural Energy for America program (www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_Reap.html).

    Ag producers and rural businesses seeking a REAP grant for a farm efficiency project will need this audit to support their grant applications. If you think your operation might qualify and you’re interested in the program, please feel free to contact me by e-mail or phone (see below).

    Lastly, electric cooperatives have a program we call RenewE. Through this program, we have funding for the promotion of rural renewable energy. The first step begins in late January and early February with a series of educational seminars designed to educate ag producers about the possibilities for anaerobic digester projects – the use of animal waste. These sessions are planned at several locations across rural Illinois during the week of January 30. For the latest in information, visit www.aiec.coop or feel free to contact me.

    These education sessions are just the first step in our RenewE efforts. This program also received a USDA Rural Energy for America grant and we have funds available for feasibility studies or engineering reports for qualifying renewable energy projects in rural Illinois.

    We think these E programs show the commitment of electric cooperatives to energy efficiency and putting members first. For additional information about the programs, contact your local electric cooperative, or feel free to contact me at jfreitag@aiec.coop, or call 217-241-7973. Let’s make energy efficiency and clean renewable energy a reality in rural Illinois.


    John Freitag serves as Vice President of Operations at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives and Executive Director of the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois.

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