HAYS, Kan. - Midwest Energy received a $1 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Loan and Grant (REDLG) Program Aug. 2, to increase energy efficiency in the homes and businesses of the cooperative’s customer-owners through its award-winning How$mart® Program.
The loan, announced by Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager, was one of 21 loans and grants totaling $13 million announced Thursday to support job creation efforts, business development and strengthen economic growth in rural communities in 12 states.
“The REDLG loan will allow us to expand the How$mart Program to many more of our 91,000 electric and natural gas customers,” stated Earnie Lehman, President and General Manager at Midwest Energy. “This loan reduces costs and saves energy for our customer-owners, and brings work to dozens of plumbing, heating and general contractors in central and western Kansas that perform the How$mart upgrades.”
Midwest Energy’s How$mart Program provides low-interest loans to eligible customers for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, air sealing and new heating and cooling systems. Participating customers repay the funds through energy savings on their monthly Midwest Energy bills.
Since How$mart’s launch in 2008, Midwest Energy has invested more than $4.4 million to help 755 customers make improvements to their homes or businesses through the program. Participants have saved nearly 1.7 million kilowatt hours in electricity savings per year, and nearly 210,000 therms of natural gas. The average How$mart participant saves roughly $53 per month on their utility bill while reducing their carbon footprint.
The How$mart Program was recognized with a Community Service Award for Energy Efficiency in 2012 by the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, a national service organization for 930 not-for-profit rural electric cooperatives and public power districts providing retail electric service to 42 million Americans in 47 states. In total, the program has received a national-level recognition award in each of its five years of existence.