Traverse City Light & Power (TCL&P) in Michigan, with help from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has launched an on-bill financing program for home energy improvements for residential customers.
The USDA, through its Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP), awarded TCL&P a $1.8 million loan to support the program, which is designed to assist the public power utility in creating financing opportunities for residential customers to make energy efficiency and/or renewable energy improvements. TCL&P says it is the first public power utility in the country to participate in the program.
“As the first municipal utility in the nation to leverage USDA funding to offer residents simple low-cost access to capital, this is a big win for our residents,” John Taylor, TCL&P board chair, said in a statement.
Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $30,000 with a fixed interest rate of 3% for up to 10 years. The program allows homeowners to repay the loan as part of their monthly utility bill.
“Besides the low fixed interest rate, the program provides convenience to encourage customers to make improvements,” said TCL&P Executive Director, Tim Arends. “The primary benefit, however, will be the energy savings.”
“Energy efficiency has done well for us,” Jacob Hardy, TCL&P energy technician, said during an online press conference to introduce the program. The program offers “another avenue for residential customers to save energy in their homes, to push the boundaries of what they would normally do when they are looking at energy efficiency.
Instead of looking for just the cheapest option,” customers can now look at upgrades,” Hardy said.
The program covers anything from upgrading a furnace, to replacing windows, to adding solar panels, he said. "We're offering this for both gas and electricity efficiency savings, so it’s not just going to benefit us as an electric utility, but DTE the gas provider in our area will also benefit with their efficiency program and their gas customers will be able to take advantage,” Hardy said.
Participation in the program requires an energy audit, but TCL&P is offering a $200 credit until the end of the year to cover that cost.