lower utility bills, reduced environmental impact, quality child care—
building blocks for a vibrant community
Ask Juetta Potter, co-owner of Country Care Daycare in Mount Vernon, Kentucky what is the most rewarding part of her job, and her face will light up: “The children. Absolutely. The best part is having a child give you a big hug and tell you that they love you.”
Juetta and her husband Gene started their child care business in 1996, primarily because they were unable to find child care for their own daughter. Now they can’t imagine doing anything else.
But providing high-quality child care is not cheap. “The hardest part of running a child care business is keeping the bills paid,” Juetta says. The financial struggles facing child care providers in Appalachian Kentucky are addressed in MACED’s 2007 Child Care in Appalachian Kentucky report. In addition to subsidy reform, the report calls for increased access to capital and small business support for child care providers.
As MACED’s first Energy Efficient Enterprises (E3) loan client, the Potters received a free energy assessment and a loan to cover the cost of replacing their dated heating system with a more efficient system. The upgrade will help reduce both their utility expenses and negative environmental impact. “MACED was able to give us a 10-year loan without requiring our house as collateral,” says Juetta. “But the real reason we went to MACED for a loan is because of the energy assessment.”
Energy Specialist Josh Bills met with the Potters and helped them find the best cost-saving and earth-friendly options. The Potters received a loan to cover the costs of purchasing and installing a wood gasification boiler unit. Wood gasification boilers are highly efficient at converting wood mass into heat. The unit combusts 97% of all combustible products in the wood and emits almost no smoke. Standard wood stoves with dampers often achieve only 50% or less combustion efficiency.
The boiler will be fueled by dead or dying wood that the Potters harvest from their own farm. The Potters plan to plant a tree for every tree they harvest.
Says Juetta, “Josh helped us look at our heating bills and figure out that the new boiler would pay for itself in seven years, based on the savings in our monthly heating bills.” They anticipate a reduction of $2,200 in utility bills to heat their business and home this year.
“Helping small business owners like the Potters is exactly why we developed the E3 project,” explains MACED President Justin Maxson. “We were especially pleased to work with the Potters because high-quality child care is such an important part of a vibrant community. The E3 project increases viability of small businesses in distressed communities while reducing negative environmental impacts, as well. That’s what sustainable development is all about.”
For more information, visit Country Care’s website, www.countrycaredaycare.com.