The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has issued a new whitepaper examining rural energy efficiency programmes.
ACEEE defines rurals as communities with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants.
The paper highlights unique energy needs that make it challenging for rural utilities, state energy offices, and other programme implementers to deliver energy efficiency to customers.
These challenges include:
- Low population density: Customers are located farther apart and in remote locations, making it difficult for implementers to inform about programmes, install measures and to keep programme costs low.
- Lack of broadband: This limits marketing strategies and the implementation of broadband-enabled programmes.
- Customer reluctance: Consumers are skeptical of utilities wanting to help them reduce energy costs.
- Financial constraints: Lack of adequate funding by cooperatives and smaller utilities.
- High costs: Long driving distances to reach consumers make it hard to finance programmes
- Insufficient outcome data: Limited resources and a lack of state regulation make programmes robust.
The paper analyses six energy efficiency providers deployed in rural areas by the likes of Oncor, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Association, Florida Office of Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, Efficiency Vermont and Co-Mo Electric Co-operative.
Recommendations to improve the uptake of efficiency programmes in rural areas, provided by ACEEE include:
- States enacting policies that drive rural energy efficiency investments
- State energy offices and programme using state, federal, and utility resources to fund programmes
- Implementers engaging local partners to develop and carry out programmes.
- Programme marketers using a variety of online and traditional channels depending on customers’ access to broadband.
- Combining energy efficiency with other measures
The report Reaching Rural Communities with Energy Efficiency Programmes is available for download here...