Over 20 years of working in the coal industry, Scott Shoupe watched as jobs vanished from his hometown of Cumberland, Kentucky.
With the economic downturn, families and businesses struggled to pay their rising utility bills. At the same time, they were facing increased flooding and infrastructure issues due to years of low investment and environmental degradation.
Scott said he knew that the area needed something very different.
He began to get interested in the growing field of energy efficiency and renewable energy. And in 2018, MACED welcomed Scott, along with John Craft, another former coal miner, into our New Energy Intern program.
During their six month internship, Scott and John conducted commercial energy efficiency and solar site assessments across Eastern Kentucky.
Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the program offers former coal industry or out-of-work individuals six-month internships to train on assessing building and homes for energy efficiency issues, implementing energy efficiency upgrades, and on renewable energy systems. This work includes coordinating complicated retrofits with contractors, and implementing smaller retrofits, particularly in lighting and duct sealing. It also includes training on communications, sales and marketing, and small business startup skills.
As they approached the end of their internship, with support from MACED’s staff and a MACED small business microloan, John and Scott each developed their own clean energy contracting businesses.
Scott’s new business is New Age Solutions, based in Harlan and serving a wide area of Eastern Kentucky.
“I want to create jobs and employ men and women with good pay and benefits,” Scott said of his business. “I think this is the perfect opportunity to be on the ground floor to learn and teach that our economy can rebound and prosper with energy conservation.”
With greater fluctuation in our weather, including extreme temperature swings, coupled with rising utility rates, Eastern Kentuckians are facing electric bills that are higher than ever. Energy efficiency upgrades, renewable energy, and sustainability education help both reduce energy use and stabilize bills in face of these changes. For the past decade, MACED’s energy team has facilitated these energy solutions for Eastern Kentucky communities, helping businesses and organizations become more resilient in the face of climate change. But limited contractor and staff capacity has been a challenge in helping enterprises with retrofits or renewable energy installations.
Both John and Scott are now contractors with MACED, turning jobs over much more quickly, in part due to the trusting relationships they build with business owners as well as the passion and motivation they bring to the work. For example, two audits they conducted after their April 2019 graduation from the internship program led to projects that were completed by the end of the following month. In the past it has often taken six months or more to move a project from audit to implementation.
In order to contact Scott, please find his website here.
MACED’s New Energy Intern program is proud to have graduated seven individuals, with two working at local non-profits to advance energy efficiency and clean energy (Frank Morris, Randall Howard), four starting their own energy services contracting businesses (John Craft, Scott Shoupe, Zac Ebersole, Ben Tatum), and one working for a private company (Megan Stepp). As of March 2020, there are three individuals enrolled in the internship program.