Big Idea Forum Presentations

Wednesday, February 22

9:15-9:45 – Big Idea Story #1: Expanding Opportunity in Rural Communities for Affordable Clean Energy Solutions
–  Curtis Wynn, CEO of Roanoke Electric in NC and officer of the Board for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
–  Dr. Holmes Hummel, Founder, Clean Energy Works
More than 40 million Americans in rural areas buy $40 billion of power each year from a non-profit electric cooperative in which they have an ownership stake and a right to vote on corporate governance.  Active community participation in these long-standing infrastructure companies is propelling them into the 21st century with a mandate for new solutions, including energy efficiency upgrades, community solar, and access to broadband services.  Mobilizing capital for these investments is especially challenging in persistent poverty counties, 90% of which are served by rural electric cooperatives like Roanoke Electric, a North Carolina utility that is leading the way on inclusive financing to accelerate investment where it can matter the most.

12:50-1:30 – Big Idea Story #2: KVEC’s Appalachian Technology Initiative:  Students Creating a New Future in Appalachia
Paul Green, Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and live-stream with students from Belfry High School, Pike County, KY
Students and faculty from Belfry High School (Pike County, KY) will be joining Paul Green virtually to discuss the role of KVEC and the Appalachian Technology Initiative in southeast Kentucky. 
The Appalachian Technology Initiative (ATI) was created by KVEC to initiate systemic economic change in a rural Appalachia. The ATI was designed to identify emerging high tech industry and develop a k-12 program to match the needs of the future workforce. By creating a new generation of students with an opportunity to remain in the region and participate in the new economy, southeast Kentucky could change its trajectory.  ATI “innovative laboratories” are being created in the fields of Computer Science, Aviation, Aerospace Engineering, Manufacturing, and other high-tech STEM fields to provide exposure, build interest, and provide educational opportunities for students in the region.

3:30-4:00 – Big Idea Story #3: Embracing our Deep Stories to Transform Our Deepest Divides
Anna Claussen, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN
Many important social issues today are polarized and politicized, particularly along an urban-rural divide. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Learn how the Rural Climate Dialogues have depoliticized climate change, connected climate policy with rural economic development concerns, and identified cross-agency opportunities for improving state programs and policies to better enable local governments to mitigate and adapt to climate change.