Tag: energy retrofit programs (Page 1 of 2)

Paying the Bill for Energy Efficiency

Jen Weiss is Senior Finance Analyst at the Environmental Finance Center.

There is a small hole in the ceiling leading into the attic of Mr. Smith’s single-family home and the windows are a bit drafty.  In the summer, the family’s 15 year old air conditioning unit runs 24 hours a day trying to keep Mr. Smith and his family cool, and in the winter the electric base boards crank out heat to keep them warm.  The Smiths try not to keep the temperature in the house too high or too low, but their monthly electricity bills still approach $500 in some months.  The family is finding it increasingly difficult to pay their utility bill each month, but unlike cable or telephone service, turning off their electricity is not an option. 

The Smith family is, of course, a hypothetical example.  Unfortunately, they are an example of a trend that is becoming more frequently found across the Southeast and likely across the nation.  Low- to moderate-income families with older homes are finding it difficult to pay their monthly utility bills.  As electric rates continue to go up, these homeowners are turning to their utilities for help.  Help with ideas on how to reduce energy use, help with weatherization of their homes and help with their utility bills.  And many utilities are listening – and making changes. Continue reading

Getting to Yes? Energy Efficiency Loan Programs in the Southeast

Jen Weiss is a Finance Analyst at the Environmental Finance Center. 

Game dice with Yes, No, and Maybe on the Face

Don’t gamble with program design

Yes, energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit of the energy world.  And yes, the southeastern United States has even been referred to as the Saudi Arabia of energy efficiency (a quote originally attributable to Dr. Marilyn A. Brown, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a Professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy). And yes, it would seem likely that homeowners in the hot, humid southeastern states would be jumping at any chance to reduce their high utility bills during the hot summer months. But for some reason, despite all indicators pointing to “yes,” homeowners in many areas of the country have given a clear response of “no” when presented with an opportunity to finance energy efficiency retrofits with low-interest rate loans.  Which is leaving many analysts in the finance industry, including myself, scratching our heads and wondering “why don’t more homeowners take advantage of these great, low rates?”

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Revolving Credit – All Grown Up

Jen Weiss is a Finance Analyst at the Environmental Finance Center. 

Quick … what do you think of when you hear the word “revolving?”  A revolving door?  A revolving restaurant?  Perhaps a revolving credit card?

In the environmental finance world, the term “revolving” is being paired up with the equally unassuming term “green” to create an effective energy efficiency and renewable energy financing tool called a green revolving fund.  At its core, it is a revolving credit instrument, operating much like a credit card which, according to Merriam-Webster, is a pretty straight forward financial tool: “a credit which may be used repeatedly up to the limit specified after partial or total repayments have been made.” But a green revolving fund is not your everyday Visa or Mastercard with a $5,000 upper limit.  It is the more sophisticated older sibling of the credit card, the sibling that has grown up and gone off to college. And while it is there, it is making a significant contribution to the bottom line.

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Three States, Three Different Statutory Frameworks for PACE Programs

Matt Harris is the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for the Environmental Finance Center. Adam Parker and Jeff Hughes wrote the paper referenced below, which is available on the Environmental Finance Center website at: http://efc.unc.edu/publications.html#PACE

While watching the presidential debate last night I was particularly struck by one contentious issue that surfaced as a sharp disconnect between the two candidates: the age-old debate between the role of federal government versus the role of state and local governments. Although not entirely surprising to see in a presidential race, the plea by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for states’ autonomy and President Barack Obama’s fierce defense of federal oversight sounded like two men on soap boxes at the turn of the nineteenth century, perhaps with anti-federalist and federalist papers respectively in hand. So it’s fitting to post today about a financial tool for clean energy that remains beholden to the variance in policy landscapes across states.

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Why Energy Efficiency Matters


Michael Chasnow is a Finance Analyst with the Environmental Finance Center.

At the EFC, we do a lot of work on energy efficiency and renewable energy (EERE) lending programs — from designing community energy finance programs to market assessments for EERE retrofit financing programs. Sometimes, it’s easy to to overlook why we try to scale energy efficiency retrofits. Why does energy efficiency matter, and why should individuals care?

There are several important reasons why energy efficiency matters, including:

  • Dollar savings to individuals and organizations
  • Energy savings that also reduce CO2 emissions
  • Local jobs created

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