8 Ways Local Electric Cooperatives Are Building a Brighter Future

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Across North Carolina, more than 2.5 million people – one quarter of the state’s population – receive power from one of 26 local electric cooperatives. As not-for-profit, member-owned organizations, the mission of cooperatives is to maximize benefits for members and communities. This drive, coupled with the adoption of rapidly advancing utility technology, has placed North Carolina’s electric co-ops as national leaders in innovation and community enrichment.

Here are eight ways electric cooperatives are building a brighter future for rural North Carolina, in this decade and beyond.

1. Innovation

Electric cooperatives are building a modern electric grid that is more flexible, resilient and capable of supporting the growing needs of members and local communities.

By integrating existing and new resources, including solar, battery storage, nuclear, microgrids and electric vehicles, electric cooperatives are working to maximize efficiency and value for members. This across-the-grid coordination is yielding economically sound, innovative energy solutions that strengthen the grid and enable new services for cooperative members to manage their energy use.

2. Empowering people

From energy use alerts and smart thermostat programs, to special rates for electric vehicle drivers and community solar initiatives, innovative new programs are empowering cooperative members to save energy and money, and support sustainability. Contact your local electric cooperative for more information.

3. Responsible sustainability goals 

Electric cooperatives in North Carolina are targeting a 50 percent drop in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A strong and diverse energy portfolio, as well as grid technologies such as battery storage and emerging methods of capturing carbon, are key in achieving these goals while also preserving reliability and affordability for members.

Nuclear will continue to be an important source for safe, reliable, and emissions-free energy, while natural gas facilitates continued integration of renewable energy sources. In fact, North Carolina is second in the nation for installed solar capacity in large part because natural gas has enabled a more efficient integration of solar.

4. Microgrids

Microgrids bring local energy resources to a community and create a number of benefits for residents. With five co-op microgrids in North Carolina, electric cooperatives are leaders in deploying this technology. Projects include an agricultural microgrid at Butler Farms in Harnett County and a residential microgrid in Youngsville, as well as the groundbreaking Ocracoke microgrid. By coordinating solar, batteries, smart thermostats in homes, and other resources, cooperative microgrids provide members with more reliable, sustainable power and new opportunities for cooperative engagement.

 5. Supporting job creation

By supporting more than 100 economic development projects with $57 million in grants and loans in the last five years, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have helped spur the creation of 5,000+ jobs and more than $1 billion in new capital investment in rural North Carolina.

6. A local focus

The electric cooperative model puts people first. As not-for-profit businesses nestled in local communities and governed by those they serve, electric cooperatives are in tune with local needs and are adopting innovative programs that best serve their community.

7. Community enrichment

Since 1994, North Carolina teachers statewide have received more than $12.9 million in Bright Ideas grants from electric cooperatives for classroom learning projects, benefiting millions of students. Education grants, workforce development and STEM learning programs, scholarships and support for local charitable organizations are all part of how cooperatives are working alongside their members to build a brighter local future.

8. Electric vehicles

Electric cooperatives are bringing the benefits of driving electric to members, including cost savings, the convenience of fueling up at home, easier maintenance, reduced emissions and a better driving experience.

Check with your local cooperative about available programs and incentives, and see how driving electric can fit your life at NCDriveElectric.com.

Electric cooperatives have installed close to 60 charging stations across rural North Carolina, bringing new economic and commerce opportunities to communities, and helping ensure that no matter where you are, you can reach your destination.

Powering a brighter future, in this decade and beyond

In 93 counties from the mountains to the coast, electric cooperatives are driven by a local focus and a mission to serve and strengthen communities. Learn more about how electric cooperatives are taking action to build a brighter future for rural North Carolina at www.NCElectricCooperatives.com/Brighter.