eLab Accelerator 2015

Clean Energy For Us

Project Objective

Clean Energy for Us (CE4U) would like to improve its model for accelerating energy efficiency by identifying incentives that lead to greater market transformation and long-term working relationships with energy efficiency providers.

Project Team Members

Katie Bray, Program Director, Clean Energy For Us
Sonia Marcus, Director of Sustainability, UNC-Asheville
Landon Pennington, Program Director, Climate VoicesUS
Rob Pinder, Executive Director, NextClimate
Maggie Ullman, President, Ullman Consulting NC

Project Description

Clean Energy for Us (CE4U) is a grassroots campaign that makes it cheaper and easier for individuals to adopt solar power and increase the efficiency of their home, business, and organization. Sawtooth, Inc. manages the program and partners with community groups, local governments, nonprofit allies, and installation companies to run local and limited-time campaigns in North Carolina and beyond. Since inception, Clean Energy for Us has completed campaigns in Asheville and Buncombe County; has campaigns underway in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Boone; and is developing campaigns in Orange County, and Tybee Island, GA. CE4U is based on the Solarize model and uses discounted solar pricing to encourage people to sign up for a free solar assessment. CE4U pre-selects contractors and encourages the adoption of energy efficiency (EE) by negotiating and offering “free energy audits”. This has been an effective means of engaging customers (about 65% of participants who sign up for a local CE4U campaign identify EE as a primary interest), but is not sustainable for many EE companies. CE4U would like to improve its model for jump starting a local residential energy efficiency economy by collaborating with EE service providers to identify a business model and contract structures that incentivize good working relationships and market transformation.

Progress Made to Date (pre-Accelerator)

CE4U has initiated seven local campaigns to increase the adoption of solar and energy efficiency and has worked directly with eight solar companies and five energy efficiency companies in North Carolina on these campaigns. We have engaged and educated thousands of individuals across the state; catalyzed about 100 solar contracts and 50 energy efficiency contracts; and have formed 20+ partnerships among local governments, service providers, and nonprofit organizations. CE4U has created a network of community organizers and contractors across NC and has advised NC WARN, NRDC, Greenpeace, and NextClimate on regional initiatives for solar and EE. CE4U has partnered with the Sierra Club, NC WARN and NextClimate to continue running campaigns across the state in 2015. CE4U will lead energy efficiency efforts for each campaign.

Post-Accelerator Outcomes

At Accelerator, the team explored ways of bolstering the activities of Clean Energy For Us (CE4U) to provide more energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to homeowners in North Carolina. Through conversations among the team and with eLab expert faculty, CE4U developed a new business plan, identified next steps for improving current activities (including contract agreements), and gathered helpful ideas on where next to scale CE4U. The CE4U champion, Katie Bray, is now working with her team to implement next steps, apply for grant funding to take CE4U to the next level, and create a Board of Advisors to providing ongoing support.