Financing for Clean Energy Renovations

Background

Getting all buildings upgraded to be energy efficient as well electrified is a monumental task but very important and essential to meeting our GHG emission reduction goals. The cost of doing this is huge and therefore the government will not be able to fund it all. In addition, improving one’s home or building adds value to the property and lowers your operating costs. We therefore need financing mechanisms to help people upgrade their homes and appliances. We also to serve low and moderate income families and business owners and renters that may not be able to easily get loans.

We are exploring the mechanism that might work best. One possibility is to use the utilities for this since they have a relationship with all building energy users as well as a billing payment system already set up. One program that has worked for some utilities and is being explored in California in called Tariff-on-Bill . One program name is the PAYS . Credit unions, coupled with grants or buy down of interest rates by utilities, has been successful for moderate-income homeowners but there are not enough of these. Liberty Homes is a lender that is working in this area . Also Community Development Agencies can be used to leverage and underwrite loans. Avista has been tasked by the utility commission to explore funding mechanisms and when they provide their report we shall review and post. As of yet Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and the public utilities have not been required to explore or come up with mechanisms. PSE has resisted providing loans due to past experiences with doing it and not wanting to be in the lending business. We need to move forward in a thoughtful way as soon as possible, therefore the state should do a full study this year, engaging the utilities and lender and the commission, to come up with appropriate budget and bills to move this forward. We should be engaged in this process and push for and support appropriate state funding and bills and utility and lender programs after the study is complete.