We are proud to announce a recent recognition by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet for our energy work. We received the 2020 Environmental Pacesetter Award, given for innovative efforts in protecting the environment and setting an example of environmental stewardship.
“These awards represent significant achievements in keeping Kentuckians healthy through better stewardship of the environment,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “This is a time when we all need to do more to take better care of each other and this beautiful state that we live in.”
Over the last five years, the Mountain Association assisted with more than 150 energy efficiency or renewable energy projects with an estimated energy savings of $430,000. The Mountain Association finance program also offered commercial businesses and nonprofits loans up to $500,000 for solar installations.
We would like to thank John Cotten of Wilderness Trace Solar, Inc. for nominating us for this award.
In his nomination, John wrote:
I would like to nominate the Mountain Association’s Energy Program and Finance Program for the Environmental Pacesetter Award for 2020.
The Energy Program was developed over 12 years ago to work within the 54 counties making up the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) region of Kentucky to work with residences, commercial businesses, and non-profit organizations to assist and promote energy awareness, savings, and conservation. With the demise of the coal industry in east Kentucky, individuals, businesses, churches, schools, missions, and other non-profit groups have seen their electric bills go up approximately 50 percent in the last 5 years, with continued escalation. As the mines and industrial plants have closed, the income of the entire region has fallen, making the rising cost of power burdensome on many in the region as unemployment is above 30% in some
Mountain Association’s Energy Team has partnered with commercial companies and non-profits to assist in the reduction of energy usage with identification of energy saving opportunities through energy audits, energy assessment reports and followup work to assist in the reduction of power bills and increased savings. Follow-up works include insulated roofs, HVAC modernization, insulation and building envelope sealing, LED lighting, and electrical demand reduction strategies with additional upgrades of hot water heaters, coolers & freezer units, other equipment by business for commercial and non-profit businesses. The addition of solar installations has had a large effect to offset energy costs for farms, non-profits, and commercial applications, with power production savings stretching out over the 30+ years of the system working life.
Through their partnerships, Mountain Association has worked with great success to create mentoring, training programs and paid internships to assist displaced miners and unemployed individuals to retrain them to work within the energy retrofit and
renewable energy industries.
As with all energy related work there is a cost. Realizing the need for a structured long term low interest loan program, Mountain Association Finance Program created a solar loan product with a four percent fixed interest, up to 20 year term, and up to five hundred thousand dollars to assist not only commercial businesses, but also non-profits who serve an important role in communities, missions, and churches. These programs are critical in providing community support throughout the 54 counties of the Kentucky ARC.
Additionally, Mountain Association assists commercial businesses to apply for and receive grant assistance through various programs with the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and Kentucky Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy On-Farm Energy grants to help facilitate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, assist in tracking, and required review processes once the grants are awarded.
In the last five years Mountain Association provided the following:
• 282 enterprises assisted with technical assistance for efficiency or renewable projects
• 50 residences assisted with energy efficiency
• Average of 2,403 MWh electricity saved per year based on all retrofits/installations in last five years
• 84 program presentations
Over the last five years, the Mountain Association has assisted over 150 energy efficiency or renewable energy projects attributed to an estimated total annual savings of $430,000 to the economy of the ARC region, not including the additional benefits their clients bring to the region.
– John Cotten