DEP making it easier to get low-interest loans for high-impact energy efficiency projects

    The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) last month announced it’s revamped the Green Energy Loan Fund (GELF) to make it easier for commercial property owners to get low-interest loans for large-scale, high-impact energy efficiency projects. Approximately $1.8 million is currently available in funding.

    “For commercial building owners who want to go big on energy efficiency, the Green Energy Loan Fund is an ideal resource,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We support projects that take energy efficiency above and beyond building code standards, which other lenders may be less willing to support. This enables property owners to achieve significant long-term energy conservation, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and cost savings in their utility bills.”

    Reinvestment Fund manages the Green Energy Loan Fund for DEP and works with building owners to ensure projects meet minimum energy savings requirements. New equipment must reduce energy use at least 25%, and whole building projects must reduce energy use more than 10 percent over current building energy code.

    Local governments, businesses, school districts, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for GELF loans and can find instructions and an application at Green Energy Loan Fund.

    In preparation for financing, GELF offers borrowers technical assistance to help building owners identify the most efficient, effective solutions to improve their building’s energy performance.

    Two new improvements make it easier for borrowers to obtain funding. First, borrowers may get even further reduced interest rates if they commit to performing a retro-commissioning several years after installation of their energy-saving project. Retro-commissioning ensures that a project continues to function optimally and achieve maximum savings and emission reductions over its lifetime.

    In addition, Reinvestment Fund can now leverage GELF funding against other capital they offer, increasing the total potential resources available to borrowers.

    The fund prioritizes local community development efforts and seeks to support projects in Environmental Justice areas. Nearly 30% of funded projects have been in buildings owned or controlled by persons of color or with low income, and more than half have been located in low-income census tracts.

    Job creation is a related benefit. The latest data available show that growth in clean energy jobs outpaced the overall job growth rate statewide in 2019, and the energy efficiency industry was the biggest clean energy employer. Over 71,400 Pennsylvanians worked in jobs related to ENERGY STAR® appliances, lighting, and HVAC systems; building and insulation materials; solar water heating and cooling; and other components of energy efficient systems.

    The Green Energy Loan Fund has financed 16 projects for a total of $23 million in improvements to 2.1 million square feet of building space since DEP and Reinvestment Fund launched the program in 2009 with U.S. Department of Energy funds. The financing has enabled a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 110,000 tons over the life of these projects. 

    “As a revolving loan fund, the Green Energy Loan Fund continues its impact over time,” said Andy Rachlin, Managing Director at Reinvestment Fund. “GELF has returned more than $9 million to the original capital pool that DEP put together in 2009, allowing us to keep adding new projects and generating positive community and environmental outcomes.”

    For more information, visit Pennsylvania Green Energy Loan Fund | Reinvestment Fund online.

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