Category: General Information (page 1 of 17)

Four Ways Water Utilities Can Weather a Hurricane

Millions of United States citizens continue to battle the effects of massive hurricanes this month. Many have lost electric and water service. As water and wastewater utilities struggle to get their systems up and running again, some are in a better position than others. What makes a utility more resilient in the face of this type of natural disaster?

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The Gray Area in Funding Affordability Programs

Why Water or Wastewater Utilities in Many States May Be Apprehensive to Fund Affordability Programs with Rate Revenue

One of the reports recently completed at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel provides an analysis of the legal and policy environment surrounding rate-setting for water and wastewater utilities in all fifty states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The report, Navigating Legal Pathways to Rate-Funded Customer Assistance Programs, attempts to answer the question of whether, state by state, water and wastewater utilities can implement assistance programs for low-income customers, where these programs are funded with rate revenue. However, after researching and drafting the summaries for each state, the black and white answers we were looking for, have turned out to be in fact, mostly gray. That is, in most states, there is not a clearly defined path that water and wastewater utilities can follow to legally fund affordability programs with rate revenue. Thus, despite the importance of ensuring affordable water for all, there are many utilities which don’t have these types of cross-subsidized affordability programs, perhaps, in part, due to this legal uncertainty. So why are some states black and white, while others remain gray?

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Tips and Takeaways: Applying for NC Water and Wastewater Funding Programs

Attention all North Carolinian water and wastewater systems: the State Water Infrastructure Authority announced that $168.5 million in water and wastewater funding will be available this upcoming fall.

In response to this announcement, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality: Division of Water Infrastructure held application-training workshops across the state of North Carolina in August. Here are some tips and takeaways learned from the training.

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Throwing Shade: The Great American Eclipse vs. Solar Power

On Monday, Aug. 21, a total eclipse will slice across the United States for the first time since 1918. It will take just 93 minutes for the eclipse to move across the entire country, and it will appear only briefly.

Since the last coast-to-coast eclipse nearly a century ago, solar generators have come to provide a small but growing piece of the nation’s energy needs, and the eclipse will at least partially obscure the sun for approximately 1,900 utility-scale plants. More than 21 GW of solar capacity will be impacted, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

While the impact is minor on a broad scale—utility-scale solar provides less than 1 percent of the United States’ electricity use—utilities in specific regions see the impact as large enough to develop contingency plans. Continue reading

How an Arkansas Electric Co-Op Tripled Efficiency Program Participation

It’s a scene played out across the country: a rural electricity service area where many residents are low-income, homes are far apart, a number of customers rent, and many live in homes over 40 years old.

Ouachita Electric Cooperative’s members, in an area with a median household income of $25,256, are exactly those who could benefit from the lower electricity bills that come with reduced usage. But its member-customers are often not in a financial position to invest in energy efficiency. The cooperative, located in southwest Arkansas, has found a way beyond these barriers and has embraced an energy efficiency financing technique in their innovative HELP PAYS program (Home Energy Loan Program – Pay As You Save), which uses on-bill financing to fund retrofits. Continue reading

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