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Report: Energy Efficiency Can Be Increased with No Out-of-Pocket Costs

On-bill financing allows homeowners to pay for the cost of weatherization through their electric bill. (blickpixel/pixabay)
On-bill financing allows homeowners to pay for the cost of weatherization through their electric bill. (blickpixel/pixabay)
May 25, 2017

MARSHALL, N.C. – As the mercury climbs, so will the energy bills for consumers across Tennessee.

Energy-efficiency measures can go a long way in reducing usage, but their cost often presents a roadblock for thousands of families.

Programs known in the industry as on-bill financing allow homeowners to pay for the cost of weatherization through their electric bill – essentially using the savings to pay off the cost and preventing out-of-pocket additional expense.

A new report from Appalachian Voices highlights the need and potential impact of such a payment system, according to Rory McIlmoil, the environmental group's energy savings program manager.

"They need some sort of solution that can meet the level of need, but can also be accessible for everybody,” he states. “There are federal weatherization grants, but those funding sources barely scratch the surface of meeting the need that's out there."

The report specifically looked at the impact for households that are members of the French Broad Electric Membership Corporation– a co-op that serves Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties in North Carolina as well as Unicoi and Cocke counties in Tennessee.

It estimates that if the co-op were to implement an on-bill system, participants could save $1,000 or more over a 10-year period.

North Carolinians who want to participate in such a program are encouraged to call their electric provider.

McIlmoil points out that while low-income households often are the last ones to be able to afford efficiency measures, they're often the most in need.

"They're more likely to live in homes that need energy-efficiency retrofits, whether new insulation, or an upgraded heating system,” he explains. “So they can't pay to improve those things that need to be improved in order to make their home more comfortable, more healthy and also reduce their energy bills."

The Appalachian Voices report estimates the energy efficiency work in the French Broad Electric Membership area alone could generate as many as 60 jobs.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC