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Energy Efficiency

Unique Mechanism Brings Clean Energy Upgrades to Homes in Ipswich, Mass.

In a first for Massachusetts, the town of Ipswich, Mass., through public power utility Ipswich Electric Light Department, will accelerate clean energy home improvements through a streamlined, utility-supported process for homeowners and renters.

This concept is officially called tariff on-bill financing, or TOB, and it will be managed through ELD’s ReSource ReInvest program.

Under the program, the utility, not the homeowner, will invest in state-of-the-art clean energy technology.

The occupant will see a monthly payment that is less than the money saved from the energy efficient upgrades. The payment would extend for as long as it takes for the utility to recover its investment and, if a homeowner moves, would transfer to the next occupant.

Administered by the Center for EcoTechnology and supported by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, “this is a potentially game-changing approach to accelerating decarbonization and ensuring that all customers -- especially renters and low-income homeowners -- are part of the clean energy transition,” a news release from Ipswich said.

“This new program will remove some of the financial barriers that keep residents from accessing new, efficient upgrades for their homes,” said Ashley Wilson of Ipswich ELD. “From solar power and heat pumps to better insulation, these all add up to money saved for the homeowner and a smaller carbon footprint.”

“It will take innovative solutions of all varieties to help residents decarbonize and electrify their homes. Tariff on-bill financing is a novel approach to delivering energy savings and efficiency to communities,” said MassCEC CEO Jennifer Daloisio. “Pioneering pilots like this one from ELD are key to meeting the Commonwealth’s ambitious net zero goals, meaningfully reducing barriers for residents, and unlocking millions in economic activity and home improvements.”

2020 feasibility study, supported in part by MassCEC, gave the partners the data and confidence they needed to move forward with the program, the news release noted.

A survey polling customer interest came back overwhelmingly positive and the business case analysis showed a strong positive return on investment for the utility.

In addition, a technical analysis indicated that priority improvements could yield enough energy and cost savings to be financed with little or no upfront cost across Ipswich’s average housing stock.

The ReSource ReInvest program is designed to take the friction out of home energy retrofits, Ipswich noted.

Under the program’s pilot-scale implementation, a customer will first receive a comprehensive home energy audit.

Next, a Center for EcoTechnology energy consultant will present a preliminary ReInvest offer with eligible weatherization and/or heat pump upgrades, the accompanying monthly payment, duration of the payment, and upfront cost, if any.

If satisfied, the next step is soliciting detailed quotes from contractors, after which the consultant updates the ReInvest offer to generate the final payment numbers.

Contractors are hired and paid by the utility, and once measures are installed and inspected, Ipswich ELD commences the payment. Should a renter or homeowner move, the payment stays with the electric meter, and the new technology will continue to deliver savings to the new occupant.

To read the feasibility study co-authored by Center for EcoTechnology and Ipswich ELD, visit centerforecotechnology.org.

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