Note: This article was originally published in the April 2002 issue of Democratic Energy.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Community Energy Cooperative (CEC) is in its 2nd year of operation and is making headway in getting neighborhood businesses and residents to adopt energy efficiency improvements. Last summer thousands of residents responded to an air conditioner exchange program resulting in 5,500 window air conditioners and 800 central air conditioners being upgraded. A lighting rebate program, that helped around 55 businesses install energy-efficient lighting. Overall, the CEC programs reduced electric demand by more than six megawatts – enough to power more than 5,000 homes.
The CEC partners with Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), the Chicago Department of the Environment and the IL Department of Commerce to bring innovative energy-efficiency programs to the neighborhoods in the Chicago area. Community leaders help to develop and promote appropriate programs for their communities.
Residents become members of CEC by paying a nominal fee. In exchange they receive an energy efficiency kit. These kits contain compact fluorescent bulbs, energy/water reducers for the kitchen sink and showers and an assortment of other energy efficient products with a value of about $50.00.
The CEC has also established the Community Benefits Fund as another way for communities to enjoy the benefits of saving energy. The CEC Benefits Fund gets its revenue from ComEd based on reductions in peak load and improvements in place-based reliability. The money in the fund is re-distributed to select community-based projects proposed by CEC members.