Topic: Economic Opportunity

Economic Opportunity Articles

USDA Plants Seed Funding for Rural Clean Energy

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on May 5 it has earmarked up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This followed a Dec. 2013 statement that the USDA will distribute $250 million to rural electric cooperatives through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Loan Program (EECLP).

Energy Efficiency Is a Ripe Market for Small to Mid-Size Lenders

Small energy-efficiency lenders face major obstacles including a lack of customer demand and data, a shortage of standardization metrics, regulatory hurdles, and an absence of underwriting standards, according to a report from the Small Lender Energy Efficiency Convening (SLEEC). The SLEEC took place in October 2013 when the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and Energi convened a group of key stakeholders to explore the obstacles small lenders face and to identify opportunities for small and mid-size lender engagement in the energy efficiency lending market.

Clean Energy and Climate Resilience Join Forces

Massachusetts and New Jersey are spearheading clean energy financing programs that also address the need for climate resilience. Both of these programs appear to be partially motivated by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The United Nations combines these two funding pools already, but within the United States, this is a new development at both federal and state levels.

Three Strategies for Low-Income Solar Programs

The phrase ‘low-income’ rarely appears in solar energy press coverage in the United States. But some enterprising organizations have set their sights on expanding the market for residential solar photovoltaics to include low-to-moderate-income communities. Three approaches – group discount programs, affordable leases, and community solar installations – are making solar power available to these communities in some states.

California Decision May Catalyze Energy Efficiency Financing

A new market-shaping decision took place at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Sept. 19. To increase the state's reliance on private capital for energy efficiency financing, the CPUC allocated $65.9 million for a suite of financing pilot programs for the state’s investor-owned utilities. California’s multipronged approach could lead to original solutions that other states might adopt.

Bank of America’s Energy Efficiency Finance Program Rewards Innovators

The Bank of America Energy Efficiency Finance Program has provided low-interest loans and grants to community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to increase access to energy efficiency retrofits in low- to moderate-income communities. The program was launched in 2011. Bank of America is issuing loans to the CDFIs at an interest rate of 1 percent over 10 years with a total loan amount of $50 million. The program is also providing $5 million in special grants for a total investment of $55 million. The grants will help support the CDFIs' green capacity building, free energy audits, staffing, training, reserves and marketing....

On-Bill Repayment Shows Great Promise, But Significant Challenges Remain

On-bill repayment has received a great deal of attention during the last few years as a potential approach to expanding the reach of energy efficiency financing in the residential and commercial sectors. With on-bill repayment, utilities or third-party lenders cover the upfront cost of energy efficiency retrofits and customers pay back the loans through their utility bills.