DOE Awards Fellowships to Six Co-ops to Pursue Advanced Energy Solutions

Farmers Electric General Manager Mark Stubbs, at one of the co-op’s five solar farms near Greenville, Texas, says a DOE energy fellow will help fast-track the co-op’s work in solar, energy storage and electrification. (Photo By: Farmers Electric Cooperative)

Six electric cooperatives are among 19 utilities and energy providers selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for a Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship to boost advanced low-emission energy solutions.

Under the new $6 million program, DOE provides a paid energy professional or recent graduate to a host utility to work on state-of-the-art projects for up to two years.

The electric co-ops plan to use their fellows to accelerate initiatives that will meet their distributed energy resource and efficiency goals while saving members money.

“Like any cooperative, we’re trying to navigate a complex and dynamic world of partners and solutions all in a manner that is cost-effective for our members,” said Cyril Brunner, innovation and technology leader at Vermont Electric Cooperative. “This is a great resource addition to the VEC team as we continue our energy transition.”

In addition to Johnson-based VEC, co-ops chosen to receive fellows were Brunswick Electric Membership Corp. in Supply, North Carolina; Connexus Energy in Ramsey, Minnesota, Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenville, Texas; Rappahannock Electric Cooperative in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association in Westminster, Colorado.

Tri-State said its fellow will help uncover energy inequities in the rural Rocky Mountain West and find ways to address them through demand management, energy efficiency and electrification.

“If we can work to minimize this burden by employing programs such as the installation of more energy efficient appliances, we can help these consumers decrease their energy bills and increase their cash flow to provide for other goods and services they may need,” said Reg Rudolph, the G&T’s chief energy innovations officer.

Farmers Electric said the DOE fellowship meshes well with the co-op’s new power supply and DER department and will help fast-track rooftop solar, energy storage and electrification projects to benefit members who are struggling financially.

“The cooperative was already making great strides in this area, but programs are still being evaluated, which makes the fellowship program a good fit for Farmers Electric,” said Mark Stubbs, the co-op’s general manager. “The program couldn’t have been timed any better.”

Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA.