New Options for Financing Energy Improvement Investments

by Kate Stephenson, Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee Chair

At last week’s VECAN conference for energy committee members from across the state, we got an update on the latest in financing options for Vermont homeowners and businesses. The exciting news is that just in the past month a couple new options have come on the table, and existing programs have been simplified to make the application process easier.

Here’s the scoop, in no particular order:

Zero Energy Now!
BPPA-VT (Building Performance Professionals Association of Vermont) and Efficiency Vermont announced a new program for energy retrofits. This program bundles together energy efficiency upgrades with renewable energy technologies (heat pumps, biomass or solar PV). This program includes a comprehensive energy analysis, overview of financing options and incentives, and coordination of subcontractors so all the improvements are working together towards the same goals. Residents of former CVPS territory are eligible for a bonus incentive of up to $5,000 (in addition to the normal incentives). For more info call 802-477-5249 or info@bppa-vt.org.

VBiz Energy Loan
This collaboration between Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU) and Efficiency Vermont (EVT) provides loans between $3,500 and $35,000 for energy efficiency upgrades. These can be 100% financed with no collateral and no closing costs. Rates are 3.25% for up to 3 years and 4.25% for up to 5 years. Recently added: this program is now open to landlords who own apartment buildings. More info: https://www.vsecu.com/energy-savings/loans/personal-loans/energy-improvement-loan/overview

Heat Saver Loan
These loans are specifically for thermal efficiency improvements, and are offered through two local credit unions. Currently considered a pilot project, these loans can be used for apartment buildings that are owner-occupied, with up to 4 units. No minimum loan amount, maximum $35,000, no closing costs. Interest rates vary from 0% to 4.9% depending on household income, and can be spread up to 15 years. Note: these cannot be used for photovoltaics. Pilot project money could run out sometime mid 2016 if the program is not renewed. Details at: http://heatsaverloan.vermont.gov/overview

PACE
The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program is a way of financing energy efficient home improvements by borrowing money and tying the payments to a property rather than the owner. PACE financing payments can be transferred to a new homeowner at any time, including before the assessment has been paid off. PACE financing is now available in 36 towns in Vermont (it must be approved at Town Meeting). Subsidized rates vary from 0-1.99% with no application fees. The process has now been streamlined to turn around applications faster than in the past, and fees are currently being waived. More info at https://www.efficiencyvermont.com/for-my-home/Financing/Financing/PACE-Overview

NeighborWorks
NeighborWorks Energy Loan is simple and affordable with interest rates from 0-5.35%, based on income and repayment terms. General repayment terms are five to fifteen years, and you can repay your loan in-full at any time without penalty. They are great at turning around your loan quickly once an energy audit has been completed, and they offer Green Mountain Power customers anywhere in Vermont on-bill financing tied to their current electric bill. You do not have to live in Western Vermont to be eligible for their loan products. More at: http://www.nwwvt.org/energy-loan/

vGreen @ VSECU
Vermont State Employees Credit Union also offers a variety of other special “green loans” including a new program for community solar projects, one for buying green vehicles, and special home equity loans and mortgages for energy improvements and renewable energy projects. https://www.vsecu.com/energy-savings/about/about-vgreen/what-is-vgreen

VEDA
The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) offers a range of energy loans to businesses, nonprofits and municipalities, including the Commercial Energy Loan (up to $2 million), the Small Business Energy Loan (up to $350,000) and the Energy Loan Guarantee which basically provides a loan guarantee up to $250,000 for loans through other lenders.

In general, these offerings and rates are changing all the time, so your best bet is to reach out to Efficiency Vermont as they can point you towards additional incentive resources and financing options.

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