EPA guide helps locals find financing to support green communities
State and local governments looking to increase energy efficiency and invest in renewable energy have some new tools courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The federal agency has put together a Clean Energy Financing Decision Tool and Guide to help states and communities figure out how to pay for going green.
Increasingly, governments have found that up-front costs prevent homeowners, building owners and businesses from making more efficient or renewable energy improvements. The EPA says its two new aids will show how various clean energy financing programs can make energy improvements more affordable.
The Financing Program Decision Tool is geared for the early stages of choosing a financing plan for energy projects. The tool asks government staffers simple questions. Some examples: “Which sector will the program target?” “Will the target market include tenant-occupied buildings?” “Can you take on additional debt?” “Do you have access to funds that will not need to be repaid?”
Based on staffers’ answers, the tool will highlight “the most promising program options for your jurisdiction,” according to the EPA.
The Financing Program Decision Guide complements the tool, explaining in detail different financing options and key factors communities should consider to start or expand clean energy programs. Some keys to success, according to the guide, include keeping monthly payments for energy improvements low so that the costs can be recovered over time, and broadening eligibility requirements so that more people and businesses can participate.
Communities can choose from a variety of funding options, including loans from Specialized Energy Lenders approved by Fannie Mae for the National Energy Loan program, special bonds like the Property Assessed Clean Energy bonds issued for energy improvements in designated districts, dedicated taxes and tariffs, grants and special leasing arrangements.
More information about the EPA’s financing tool and guide, and other clean energy programs is available on the EPA website.