Topic: Economic Opportunity

Economic Opportunity Articles

Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance Starts Financing Network

Building relationships is one of the essential ingredients of developing a nationwide framework of energy efficiency programs. On May 13, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) and the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced the beginning of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Finance Network (SEEFN), which will aid this traditionally underserved region in creating financing programs.

On-Bill Financing Report Shows Strong Performance

On-bill financing can be a powerful tool for offering attractive energy efficiency options to a broad range of utility customers, according to a new report by State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action). Utility customers often fail to invest in energy efficiency because of its upfront costs, the report said. On-bill financing allows customers to pay for energy efficiency measures gradually over time through charges included on their utility bills. This approach makes it much easier for some customers to access energy efficiency financing.

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.