FOR: CONSERVATION SERVICES GROUP
Massachusetts Consumers Receive $83 Million in 'Heat' Loans for Energy Efficiency UpgradesMAR 13, 2012 - 11:17 ET
BOSTON, MA and WALTHAM, MA--(Marketwire - March 13, 2012) - The Mass Save® HEAT loan has provided nearly $83 million to fund energy efficiency measures for National Grid and NSTAR customers over a six-year period, the utilities announced today. The financing is made possible through an innovative program kicked off by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in 2006 and is funded by utility customers. Designed to help pay for upgrades that result in consumer savings and a reduced carbon footprint, nearly 14,000 customers have borrowed $82,809,102. In 2011, during a time of continued economic uncertainty, the program saw its highest level of participation, with more than $28 million being borrowed. One of the largest residential energy efficiency lending initiatives in the U.S., the program helps ratepayers overcome the cost barrier to adopting energy saving upgrades.
The HEAT loan program began as a pilot in May of 2006. Loans were then capped at $15,000 for single family homes and owner occupied rental properties with 1-4 units. When the redesigned program officially launched last year, the cap increased to $25,000 and non-owner occupied rental properties with 1-4 units became eligible. The number of participating banks and credit unions also expanded to 47 by the end of 2011, up from 10.
Participating lenders also started to offer more flexible financing options including $500 "micro" loans, joining traditional loans that have averaged more than $8,000. Since 2008, interest has been at zero percent. This rate, combined with more choices for financing, are accounting for the high level of HEAT loan activity in recent years. This is according to National Grid and NSTAR's vendor, Conservation Services Group (CSG), who is also one of the state's HEAT loan management firms. So far, the majority of the loans have been used for heating system upgrades and to help finance the remainder of customer copays for weatherization improvements.
DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia, said, "Energy efficiency is the state's first fuel. The Mass Save HEAT loan has made it possible for thousands of homeowners to improve their homes' efficiency, save energy and money and make their houses more comfortable. The cheapest and cleanest fuel is the one we don't use. This financing is one of the innovations that have made the Commonwealth a national clean energy leader and the number one state for energy efficiency, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy."
"The fact that customers moved forward with $83 million in HEAT loans for energy efficiency measures in a tough economic climate speaks volumes about their interest in saving energy and cutting greenhouse gas emissions," said Penni Conner, NSTAR's vice president of customer care. "We anticipate continued high demand for energy efficiency improvements this year."
"National Grid is committed to empowering our customers to save by promoting and offering energy efficiency programs that puts more money in their pockets," said Ed White, vice president, customer and business strategy. "Thanks to the HEAT loan program, customers are already seeing a return on their investment, in some cases saving up to 30 percent on energy costs because of the improvements they've been able to finance."
Stephen Cowell is CEO of CSG. He said, "The Mass Save HEAT loan initiative is one of the most successful programs of its kind. In fact, 2011 may have been the single largest year for residential energy efficiency financing in the nation -- ever."
Homeowners must have an energy assessment through Mass Save in order to apply for a loan. For more information, visit www.masssave.com/about-mass-save/ or call 1-866-527-7283.
Charlotte A. McCormack