New Hampshire town
(Credit: P199 / Wikimedia)

In New Hampshire’s rugged, rural North Country, some low-income residents spend 25 percent or more of their income on energy. That’s far more than most Americans.

Donovan: “Nationwide, sort of an ideal range for energy burden is 3 to 5 percent.”

Christine Donovan is with the nonprofit Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, or VEIC.

She says making homes more energy efficient helps, and a federal weatherization program can provide assistance. But in the North Country, the waiting list can be up to eight years long.

Donovan: “There’s a strong can-do, independent, self-reliant culture in the region. People don’t like to ask for help. So there’s reason to expect that that 8-year waiting list is really only a subset of those who actually need that level of weatherization service.”

People can also turn to a state utility-run program. But few rural residents know it exists because it’s advertised more in populated areas.

So VEIC is working with local partners to fill the gap. They plan to promote available programs and develop a network of trained contractors.

Donovan: “The whole idea is convene and connect, build local capacity and leadership, and then we step back and support them moving forward.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.