volume 66 - issue 11 - November 2016
SMECO stands for sustainability
SMECO recently issued its position statement on sustainability to document the cooperative’s progress on meeting its goals to reduce energy consumption, minimize its carbon footprint, and increase the amount of renewable energy in its power portfolio.
"Focusing on sustainability is part of our core values and is included in our strategic plan," said Austin J. Slater, SMECO’s president and CEO. "Sustainability is as much about preserving our heritage and maintaining a healthy environment as it is about conserving energy. We want to keep our forests, fields, and pastures green, our black-eyed Susans golden, and our Maryland crabs blue."
At SMECO, we want to do the right thing by the environment and by our customers. Helping our customer-members to become more energy efficient not only helps our environment by reducing energy consumption, it also helps customers reduce their energy bill.
As noted in its sustainability report, SMECO has surpassed its EmPOWER Maryland goals for improving efficiency and reducing energy use per capita. Customer-members have saved more than 242,170 megawatt-hours by participating in SMECO’s EmPOWER Maryland and demand response programs, which includes more than 40,000 participants in the SMECO CoolSentry program.
In a recent national survey conducted by Touchstone Energy cooperatives, two-thirds of the members surveyed support a balanced energy portfolio and programs that help customers reduce energy use, such as smart thermostats and online energy portals. For other members, the affordability of energy is most important.
SMECO is working to improve its use of natural resources and advocating at the state level for cost-effective renewable energy goals and a framework for sound environmental practices. The cooperative is continuing to add wind and solar to its power portfolio.
In 2014, SMECO was honored by the Solar Electric Power Association as the Electric Cooperative Utility of the Year. In 2015, nearly six percent of SMECO’s power purchases came directly from renewable resources. More than 3,200 SMECO customers have installed solar panels to make efficient use of renewable energy at their home or business. Customers who are interested in installing solar at home can go to SMECO’s website and try the WattPlan online tool. WattPlan can help provide a cost-benefit analysis. SMECO does its best to help customers navigate the application process in coordination with their solar installer.
"We've made some significant accomplishments and have demonstrated our commitment to sustainability by optimizing automated technology on our electric system and promoting flexible schedules and teleworking for employees," Slater said. "Engaging employees in our sustainability effort is very important. In fact, we are publishing a 2017 calendar that features photos that were taken right here in Southern Maryland by SMECO employees. When you look at some of these spectacular images, you'll see why sustainability is crucial to preserving our heritage."
The Sustainability Position Paper lists SMECO’s goals and accomplishments for environmental leadership and tracks our progress in conserving energy and purchasing power from renewable sources. You can read the paper on our website at smeco.coop/sustainability-position-paper. You can also download a calendar from SMECO’s website at smeco.coop/calendar2017.