Electric cooperatives praise bipartisan support for consumer energy loans

 (Columbia, SC) South Carolina’s electric cooperatives today saw their idea for jobs creation and consumer energy efficiency loans included in unique bipartisan, bicameral legislation from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) and other lawmakers.

If passed, the legislation would establish a national Rural Energy Savings Program that could create as many as 40,000 new jobs in South Carolina and across the country. The program would provide $4.9 billion in federal funding for low-interest loans that could help as many as 1.6 million electric cooperative consumers nationwide make energy- and money-saving home improvements.

“As Cooperatives, we are committed to making this program successful and to putting those federal dollars to good use,” said Michael Couick, president and CEO of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. “This program will work because the co-ops are on the hook for repayment of the federal loan regardless, and as consumer-owned utilities, our owners suffer if energy bills don’t come down.”

The idea is the latest in a series of steps that South Carolina co-ops have taken to save their consumer-owners energy and money. Since 2008, co-ops have given away more than two million energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs to consumer-members. In 2009, S.C. co-ops awarded home energy efficiency makeovers valued at up to $10,000 each to seven families in the state. On March 1, the co-ops announced a statewide energy efficiency study that would benefit 1,200 homes.

“Twenty-two percent of co-op families in South Carolina make less than $25,000 annually. This effort by Congress offers a unique opportunity to help families use less electricity and have more money available for housing, groceries and the other necessities of life. We need to assert our nation’s energy independence and protect our environment. Today’s legislation could make all of that possible,” Couick added.

About The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc.

The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. is the state association of independent, member-owned electric cooperatives. More than 1.5 million South Carolinians in all 46 counties use power provided by electric cooperatives. Together, the co-ops operate the state’s largest electric power system with more than 70,000 miles of power lines across 70 percent of the state. More information is available at www.ecsc.org.

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