Energy Efficiency

Michigan public power utility reaches 100 customers in on-bill loan program

One hundred residential customers of Holland, Michigan’s public power utility have funded energy retrofits through an on-bill loan program.

“The fact that one hundred homeowners have utilized the on-bill loan program means Holland residents find value in upgrading the energy efficiency of their homes and like the convenience of paying for the loan on their electric bill,” Holland Mayor Nancy DeBoer said July 12.

The Holland Board of Public Works’ on-bill financing program, the first in Michigan, complements Holland Energy Fund’s 10% rebate program for residential energy improvements costing at least $10,000.

Eligible efficiency measures include insulation, lighting and rooftop solar as well as upgrades to appliances, air conditioning and heating systems.

The long-term financing option is intended to help customers who might not qualify for traditional financing because of low credit scores or a high debt-to-income ratio. To qualify for the program, customers must have 12 months of on-time bill payment history. While the utility does not review customers’ credit scores, it does check to see if any credit discrepancies have occurred in the last three years.

The energy fund has issued $1.5 million in low-interest loans, which average $15,000 each.

“The combination of the incentive and the availability of on-bill financing is allowing homeowners to do more comprehensive projects, in addition to basic insulation,” said Tim Vagle, president of Holland Energy Fund and city treasurer.

Customers who want to take advantage of the rebate program must first meet with the city’s energy advisor and then sign up for an energy audit.

The Holland Energy Fund implements goals set in the city’s Community Energy Plan, a long-range plan that includes a target of cutting annual per capita greenhouse gas emissions to 10 metric tons by 2050 from 24 metric tons in 2010.

The plan calls for renovating 7,400 homes in two phases. In the first phase, set to run until 2033, homes will be retrofitted with “moderate” measures that will result in the buildings being about 50 percent more efficient. The second phase will use more intense measures to make the homes 66 percent more efficient, according to the plan.

Read more about the program in Public Power Magazine.