If you ask the average home or business owner about energy efficiency improvements, she will most likely say something about turning off lights or replacing an older appliance. She might even discuss a recent energy audit or the installation of programmable thermostats. But few property owners will be able to detail the deep energy efficiency retrofits that are needed or planned for their building. And even fewer will be able to tell you how to finance the cost.
An understanding of the depth and value of possible energy efficiency measures and how to finance them are two of the largest barriers facing the energy efficiency industry today – particularly in the Southeast, where high utility bills disproportionally impact low- and moderate-income families. Something must be done to bring the energy efficiency industry together to educate, share best practices and pilot innovative ideas to maximize the impact of energy efficiency investment in the Southeast. That something is the Southeast Energy Efficiency Finance Network.
On May 13, 2014, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina (EFC), announced the launch of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Finance Network. The purpose of this new network is to engage a multitude of energy efficiency participants in the Southeast, offering them robust educational opportunities, case studies, best practices and the support system needed to build a profitable region-wide base of energy efficiency financing programs. The Network, which launches with approximately $1M of targeted capital support from the U.S. Department of Energy, welcomes the participation of regional banks, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), credit unions, utilities, contractors, nonprofits, trade associations and government agencies. In other words, the Network welcomes everyone in the energy efficiency industry.
The Finance Network will serve as a convener and educator for all network participants, providing centralized resources and tools for collaboration as well as research and technical advisory services to facilitate energy efficiency financing programs. Network activities and resources will include:
- Innovative pilot programs
- Contractor finance training
- Collaborative roundtables and summits
- Best practices, case studies and white papers
- Financial models and calculators
- Measurement and verification tools
- And much, much more!
Over the next month, SEEA and the EFC will be coordinating a schedule of events, including a webinar on Thursday, June 19th at 2:00 p.m. (EST) to review the southeast region’s key energy efficiency hot spots and discuss plans for the Finance Network and its 2014 initiatives. Click here to register.
We invite you to join the Southeast Energy Efficiency Finance Network. Please visit http://southeastfinancenetwork.com/ to learn more and email FinanceNetwork@seealliance.org if you would like to join the network. You can also complete an online survey.
We welcome your feedback, your innovative ideas and most of all, your participation. Together, let’s make an impact!
Jen Weiss is a Senior Financial Analyst at the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill.