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The New York Times Green, Inc.

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Cities Use Creative, Targeted Lending to Speed Energy Projects

Excerpt from Libby Tucker's post
One challenge to getting energy-saving initiatives off the ground is that the presumed social benefits arising from improved energy efficiency (fewer greenhouse gases, for instance) are often at odds with the rational economic calculus of homeowners on the ground. From solar panels to efficient window systems, the capital costs of such projects can be prohibitive — and take years, sometimes decades, to pay for themselves.

Faced with that reality, a number of municipalities across the country are getting creative and experimenting with incremental, neighborhood- or district-based lending programs that help homeowners pay the up-front capital costs.

Under what are called "geographic targeting" or "renewable energy community" programs, a lender — be it a city, utility or bank — effectively goes door-to-door, offering homeowners or businesses within designated neighborhoods low-interest loans to complete efficiency or renewable energy projects. NYT Green Inc. Blog Full Post »

Nancy's Comment
Liked the text but not the photo. Although caulk guns and insulation aren't as eye-catching as solar panels, they're a reliable and inexpensive way to make buildings more energy efficient. Adding low-cost options to a city's program would go a long way toward resolving "The biggest challenge to large-scale community energy projects is demonstrating a consistent return on investment that attracts the right mix of public and private financing".

By offering property owners a choice, for those who see solar as the better choice — with its ability to generate power on-site and potential to sell power back into the grid — fine. But good economics and good policy dictate the inclusion of low-tech energy efficiency solutions that are easy to install, effortless to maintain and suitable to almost all structures in all locations. Nancy's Comment on Green Inc. »