Co-op Programs Bring Savings to Those Who Need It Most

San Miguel Power Association is partnering with the Colorado Energy Office and GRID Alternatives Colorado to expand community access to solar energy for hard-working families throughout the state. SMPA’s participation will also enhance SMPA’s free home efficiency program, known as the SMPA I.Q. Weatherization Program. Together, these income-qualified programs will offer an unprecedented level of assistance to families struggling to pay their bills.

“SMPA has long been a leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said SMPA Board President Rube Felicelli. “We are now making home efficiency upgrades and local renewable energy readily available to our lower income members through the SMPA ‘I.Q.’ or ‘income-qualified’ programs. We are excited to join with our partners, Energy Outreach Colorado, the Colorado Energy Office, GRID Alternatives and EcoAction Partners to reduce our carbon footprint while reducing the financial burden of high electrical bills on local families in need.”

It is no secret that a well-insulated, tightly-sealed home with energy-efficient appliances is cheaper, safer and more comfortable to rent or own than its leaky counterpart. Unfortunately, many of the residents of inefficient homes can least afford to waste energy. “We were looking for ways to help those having difficulty paying their bills,” said SMPA Member Services Manager Brad Zaporski. “We were also aware of a strong desire within the membership to reduce our carbon footprint. With help from our partners, we’ve been able to combine the solutions to both of these problems into one program.”

For SMPA, free home weatherization is nothing new, but this is the first time community solar will further assist those households that get connected to the program. A community solar array will provide convenient access to solar power for the participants, allowing them to save money by tapping into an abundant, local, renewable resource.

What benefits are there for SMPA? It’s simple: Homes will draw less energy from the grid once they are improved, and solar panels that harvest energy from the sun will allow the utility to buy less energy up front. This will save money and keep the money that is spent within the local economy. While the I.Q. programs will provide definite benefits to its participants, the savings will also come back to the cooperative, which benefits all its members.

“It’s great to be part of a community that works together to achieve a better future,” Zaporski said. “That’s what cooperatives are all about.”