What is a "Community Supported Energy” (CSE) Project?

This entry was posted Monday, 23 November, 2009 at 12:52 pm

A Community Supported Energy Project, or CSE, is a lot like a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. Across the country, CSA’s have ”sprouted up” as Americans realize that locally produced food has an array of benefits, including better tasting, healthier and lower impacting food, keeping money local and supporting farm systems that stem suburban sprawl and provide food security in the face of negative impacts of globalization. Folks can support CSA’s in a couple of ways: 1) they can prepay at the beginning of the season and receive a weekly or monthly supply of produce either delivered to their door or to a central pick up point, or 2) they can buy produce weekly or bi-weekly at local farmers markets. Some CSA’s let folks come out to the farm and help pick and manage the farm. Community Gardens work very similarly. These “Loca-vores,” local eaters, are making a huge contribution to reducing our carbon footprint, selecting and promoting foods that don’t travel thousands of miles, consuming copious amounts of fossil fuels to get to our plate. If you buy organic, or permaculture-based food, you have traveled a long way down the road towards sustainability.

CSEP Logo
The same goes with “consumption” of energy. If we consume our energy from local sources, we become less reliant on foreign sources of fossil fuels, spend less energy getting it to us and keep more money in the local economy. “Local energy” comes in a variety of forms, like: the wind, water, solar and biodiesel. A CSE could be supported similar to a CSA with folks buying into a CSE each year as a member, similar to NCGreenPower, offsetting or mitigating their energy consumption with the investment and purchase of local energy equivalents, or simply buying the energy good or service directly. Biodiesel can be made from virgin oils produced by local farmers, or made from waste oil. Obviously some technology is needed and most likely it may come some distance before you can set it up or use it. But it is likely soon that manufacturers of these green, alternative energy technologies may be setting up shop nearby, as demand grows, creating more jobs and employing people. In NC alone $15 billion flees the State to pay for energy. Think if that money was spent in your community and how that would change the landscape. Think of the cleaner environment!

Examples of Local CSE’s are:

Piedmont Biofuels and Carolina Biodiesel and its local restaurant to waste veggie oil to biodiesel production.

Eno River Grist Mill

SAS 1.7MW Solar array

Durham County Landfill Methane to Energy