Wabash Valley Power operates out of Indianapolis providing wholesale power to 28 distribution cooperatives in Indiana and the neighboring states of Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri. These cooperatives provide power to 350,000 businesses and residences within their service area. Wabash Valley Power’s influence on the development of today’s energy cooperative business model is one that can be used as a good example for other energy cooperatives.
Electric cooperatives currently serve 12 percent of the nations population. However, their hardware influence is much more far-reaching as three-quarters of the country is covered in cooperative-owned distribution lines. This growth has come from utilities such as Wabash Valley Power operating under electric cooperatives like the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which represents the interests of 900 electric cooperatives. Using the association’s business model for effective cooperation between utility companies, Wabash Valley Power partially founded and became a cooperative member with Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.
Touchstone Energy’s members mirror the one’s associated with the NRECA, serving more than 30 million members in 46 of the United States. Touchstone’s influence has allowed for better communication between energy consumers and their local utility companies. Effective networks among all parties producing and consuming energy plays a key role in upgrading our energy facilities to becoming more sustainable.
Nearly 90 percent of local electric co-ops generate renewable sources of energy. Utilities included in these co-ops, like Wabash Valley Power, are now receiving 11 percent of their total power from renewables as opposed to just 8 percent for the entire utility sector. However, the cooperative strive towards energy sustainability does not only come from the renewable sources being using by the energy producers, but from the energy users upgrading their lighting fixtures and major appliances.
Wabash Valley Power acting as both a utility provider and energy cooperative member has developed an energy efficiency program, Power Moves, which provides incentives for users in homes, businesses, schools, and farms. Power Moves is making the transition to sustainable energy use easier, and the cooperative relationships Wabash Valley Power has built with neighboring utility companies are now being used to bring their energy efficiency program to a larger audience.
While the network of energy cooperatives grows, so too will the number of energy users being able to take advantage of energy efficiency programs. This is a major motivator for the work being done at Rebate Bus to make the rebate application process easier. We understand the bottom-up transition that energy efficiency is taking from energy user upgrades, and we are focused on developing an interface that facilitates this transition in a way that leaves no one behind.