New Orleans, LA., February 18, 2013 — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today bestows the Association’s Community Service Award for Energy Efficiency on Valley Electric Association (VEA) in Pahrump, Nevada, honoring the cooperative’s initiative to increase the penetration of solar water heaters.
Four years ago, VEA initiatied an aggressive campaign to reduce peak demand by creating incentives for members to install solar water heaters. Through volume purchasing, VEA reduced the cost of the Rheem solar water heaters and offered no money down, zero-interest loans that can be paid with the savings from electricity or propane.
“Valley Electric Association tapped an important energy resource—its members and its Ambassadors—to develop an innovative, cost-effective solar water heating program that has been described as the most successful in the continental U.S.,” said NRECA CEO Glenn English.
“VEA’s solar water heating program has generated significant benefits for the communities it serves as well as being another great example of the power of the cooperative business model,” said English.
The solar water heaters save VEA members an average of $243 per year. In the aggregate, the solar water heaters have enabled the co-op to conserve about 1.5 million kWh, reduce peak demand by an extimated 340 kW and abate 2.1 million pounds of CO2 annually.
The community benefits in a number of ways: the $160,000 saved annually by VEA members will likely be spent in the community; materials are purchased locally and the program led to a partnership with Great Basin Community College which is helping to produce certified solar water heater installers.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.
Nearly 6,000 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting February 18 -21, during which they will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2013. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer owners.