Self-Help Credit Union is offering $15 million in low-interest loans for energy-efficiency projects in Charlotte and other cities. Over 50 economic developers, energy professionals and others attended the Feb. 16 launch of the program in Charlotte.
The event was as part of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association's Clean Energy Connections education series. NCSEA's Communications & Government Affairs Specialist, Amneris Solano, spoke with Melissa Malkin-Weber, Green Initiatives Manager at Self-Help Credit Union, about the program.
More businesses are seeing the benefits of adopting energy efficient practices. Has that lead to the need for this kind of loan program?
The Self-Help Energy Loan Fund is exciting because it opens the door to energy efficiency to those borrowers who might have not been considering it at all. For instance, where a small-business is borrowing for working capital, we can help them improve their efficiency by upgrading their old T12 lights or inefficient HVAC.
Why should building owners take advantage of this program?
There are still a lot of disincentives that prevent even very savvy property managers from making energy investments in their buildings. For instance, they may have scoped out great projects with very strong return on investment over time, but it’s hard to make that investment when there’s economic uncertainty. Small businesses face the additional disincentive that they may not have staff with enough bandwidth and resources to identify the best energy investments. We hope that the reduced-cost financing will encourage building owners to take a second look at their energy investment opportunities.
How does this loan program allow businesses to meet their energy savings goals?
One of our key goals is to reduce the cost barrier to implementation. Because of Bank of America’s funding and leadership, we will be able to offer a 1.5 percent interest rate discount through the Self-Help Energy Loan Fund.