CEO of Roanoke Electric shares how his utility’s business model is evolving with a PAYS® investment program

Upgrade to $ave is a new offering from Roanoke Electric to customers who seek debt-free financing for efficiency upgrades to their homes and businesses.  In a well-attended online session hosted by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, CEO Curtis Wynn offered insights of experience as an executive striving to deliver effective efficiency solutions to customers who can benefit the most.

CEO Wynn opened his remarks by explaining that Roanoke Electric’s service area covers several counties that are all in the top tier for economic distress in North Carolina.  The persistence of poverty in the region has taken a toll on the quality and energy performance of homes and commercial buildings, leading to wasted energy that drives up energy bills during the winter and summer seasons.  CEO Wynn described making multiple attempts to reach customers most in need – low-income households and renters, ultimately finding that barely a handful of his top 1,000 highest users could benefit from a loan-based program the utility launched through a partnership with a bank.

Roanoke Electric found that the Pay As You Save system was working well for the economically distressed area of eastern Kentucky, where the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) had launched the How$mart KY program in partnership with multiple electric cooperatives.  Those utilities in Kentucky had themselves gained confidence in the approach based on the success of How$mart program launched by Midwest Energy in Kansas.

While Roanoke followed the cooperatives in Kentucky and in Kansas in using PAYS, it is the first utility in the country to use the new federal Energy Efficiency & Conservation Loan Program to offer customers debt-free financing for investments in cost effective energy upgrades to their homes and businesses.  CEO Wynn reiterated the invitation in his open letter encouraging executives of other cooperative utilities to take advantage of Roanoke Electric’s work to develop a business plan that the Rural Utilities Service found to be cost-effective for the utility.

In addition to circulating the video and slides through the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, Roanoke Electric also provided an extensive set of questions and answers based on inquiries submitted in writing by online participants.