To understand where we came from we must go back to 2008 when our Executive Director, Ruchi Singhal, was hired with grant funding by BizTech, a local business incubator, to mentor entrepreneurs and small businesses on their renewable energy concepts. She was named the program Renewable Energy Outreach and Ruchi spent her time working within the greater Huntsville, AL community on several energy efficiency and renewable energy issues. One of the main themes of the day was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more commonly known as the Stimulus Bill. With all the new federal contracts then available in en-energy, businesses and citizens were eager to learn more and possibly bring money to Huntsville. Ruchi helped them better understand ARRA including putting together many proposals for local businesses and universities to pursue funding.
Through her work with BizTech, one thing became very clear. People were very much interested in smart and sustainable energy. Though the grant she administered eventually ended, she knew she had to figure out a way to keep sustainable energy moving in Huntsville.
Together with other like-minded leaders, Nexus Energy Center was born. Although Nexus didn’t even have any funding to fulfill its desire to be a one-stop-shop for all programs related to energy in the community, we were determined enough to know that this would soon change. We immediately hit the ground running applying for 501(c)(3) status and pursuing many grant opportunities. Only six months in, but still six months with Ruchi as an unpaid Director, we won the first grant for Nexus to administer what is now the AlabamaWISE Program. To win this grant, we positioned ourselves as the only Alabama participant in a Southeast consortium application to the DOE Better Buildings program. Our success in establishing the AlabamaWISE Program led us to win two additional State Energy Program (SEP) grants to grow energy efficiency in Alabama. The AlabamaWISE Program helps homeowners all across Northern and Central Alabama save energy and reduce their utility bills. The program quickly took off and people began to discard the chains of high utility bills.
We are proud to bring our program full circle by working with local community colleges, such as Drake State, in starting workforce development projects on green skills training. These unemployed workers now have skills for the growing energy market, and our WISE program is causing much of the growth. One of the most recent developments is our WISE solar rebate but perhaps the most exciting is the Nexus Energy Solutions Center. Now that critical mass in Huntsville and Alabama at-large has been reached, it’s time to show the world what we can do. The Solutions Center is a unique space to create visibility and opportunities for partners in Alabama to keep growing our smart and sustainable energy economy. Through demonstrated success, Nexus has continued to grow to bring on additional staff, increase its service territory, and offer new products.