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Celebrate Energy Independence this 4th of July!

Posted by: chris
June 30, 2014

Dear Friends and Alumni of SEI,

Happy Fourth of July! Here in Paonia, Colorado, home of SEI’s headquarters, our little community is transformed. Flags line the streets, there’s a parade through our  downtown, and a carnival in town park with lots of contests, including coal shoveling. Everyone comes out in force (and in red, white and blue) to celebrate America’s Independence.

What if July 4th also became synonymous with Energy Independence? What if we celebrated the day when all people, regardless of socioeconomic status, would have access to clean, affordable, renewable energy? What if we celebrated the day when our communities stopped exporting millions of dollars for electricity and instead kept the money (and jobs) locally? What if we celebrated our independence from behemoths that monopolize local control of our electricity?

Education and training are key parts of the implementation of the Energy Independence vision, and SEI is doing our part to make this vision a reality—not just here in the US but around the world. In June alone, we’ve trained locals in Equatorial Guinea to maintain a 5MW microgrid which will supply 100% of the island's current electrical demand, instead of unreliable generator-based electricity. We just finished solar trainings in Guam, Columbia, and PV America in Boston. We participated in the Arab Forum for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Egypt. We provided solar training to over 200 people from 16 countries and 35 states—just in June—through our general public online and in-person training. Plus we worked with over 125 K-12 teachers and kiddos who experienced the power of renewables through hands-on learning. With each person, we are that much closer to our vision.

On a policy perspective, we were very pleased to host Dr. Holmes Hummel, a former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Policy & International Affairs. Holmes is an energizing fireball who’s on a mission to ensure that rural electric co-ops take advantage of The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP). Through this program, the Rural Utility Service makes direct loans to electric cooperatives. The co-op then reloans the very low-interest funds to their residential and commercial customers in order for those customers to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. If you don’t know about this program, it’s exactly the type of program that can bring Energy Independence to rural communities across the US.

It’s going to take each and every one of us (plus many, many more) to make Energy Independence a reality. We will get there.

With anticipation,

Kathy Swartz, Executive Director

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