Innovation, Entrepreneurial, and Business Solutions

Energy on a Domestic scale:

The issue of limited access to clean and reliable energy sources has had a detrimental effect of populations within developing nations. As these populations are forced to resort to harmful energy sources, their health and wellbeing is compromised. Related problems, however, are not limited to developing nations. There are several domestic populations who are left without reliable energy and are forced to resort to expensive and environmentally problematic alternative energy sources. The recent northeast hurricanes have destroyed energy infrastructure and left business and homes without energy. Destruction could have been avoided if the grids were less centralized and had battery power. Following the storms, the only businesses able to function were those that ran on solar panel or possessed their own grid. Preventing future issues, it is apparent that households and businesses should transition to all renewable energy sources. However, these renewable energy infrastructures require a significant amount of upfront cost in terms of installation. This disproportionately affects lower income populations. The use of renewable energy is also beneficial as a way of reducing energy use because it is often more efficient. Therefore, the high starting cost is not only keeping low income populations from engaging in sustainable living, they are also forcing these populations to spend more on energy. In order to combat this issue, several entrepreneurship options attempt to lower the upfront cost for low income house owners or renters.

On-Bill Financing:

The creation of a financing program that allows customers to pay off a renewable energy source unit through the selling of the energy back to the company is one such example.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy conducted a recent study to examine how energy efficiency can improve underserved and low income populations. The study found that “the median low-income household spent 7.2 percent of its income on energy, twice as much as the median for all households (3.5 percent).” When it comes to low income populations in rural areas, the energy burden is 9%. In order to address this issue, there have been several state requirements for energy utilities to allow for bill assistance programs. These programs work with several government policies, such as the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The opportunity as a hypothesis is to provide households the opportunity to install energy efficient, and in some cases renewable energy technology to houses as a way to save money. In addition to these governmental funded programs, several utilities have created structured payment plans. These structured payment plans are entrepreneurial solutions to a domestic problem.

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The enterprise structure of this solution is a combination of governmental and nonprofit. In some instances it is the government that offers complete support, while in some, it is mostly through nonprofit support that the solution is carried through. In the case of the program through the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Holland Energy is a corporate partner that is also involved. The key resistances come from the lack of financial support, as well as the current energy system. These projects require both manual labor and finances to purchase material. As the energy savings will free up to 10 million dollars for the local economy, financial needs can be more easily achieved. Other resource streams can come from donations and fundraising. The key resources of these programs is coming from the Nonprofit and NGOs that have chosen to partner with governmental agencies. With in depth knowledge about energy in a technological and social sense, the program can be better implemented. Working on a local level also enriches the actions of every program as all stakeholders are considered and involved. As of now, no urgent unintended consequences have been identified. The greatest value of the solution is the opportunity of low income populations to have the agency to engage in renewable, resilient and efficient energy systems.

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