The Inquirer (Philly.com): State Revives Loan Program For Energy-Efficient Home Improvement

May 18, 2016

May 12, 2016
(c) philly.com: The Inquirer

Pennsylvania has relaunched its popular program offering low-interest, fixed-rate financing for energy-efficient home improvements almost two years after it went dormant for lack of funding.

State officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Reese and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley, gathered at the South Philadelphia home of Lizzie Rothwell and John Beauregard on Thursday to announce resumption of the Keystone Home Energy Loan Program.

Rothwell and Beauregard used a loan from the program to insulate their 800-square-foot South Seventh Street rowhouse and upgrade its systems two years ago.

KeystoneHelp, as the program is known, provided loans totaling $110 million to 14,000 homeowners statewide in the eight years after it began in 2006.

“Not a cent was lost,” Reese said. “It was a smart investment for the Treasury and great opportunity for homeowners.”

The original loan limit of $15,000 has been increased to $20,000, with flexible repayment terms and low interest rates. Financing for 100 percent of the project is available.

Information is available at http://keystonehelp.com

The relaunch was made possible, in part, by a first-of-a-kind financing partnership
that includes Pennvest, the state’s water infrastructure development authority.

The state is the first in the country to use such funds to support loans financing residential energy efficiency improvements, Quigley said.

“By increasing energy efficiency, you reduce air pollution and that results in better water quality,” Quigley said.

The program is supported by a secondary loan market created by the Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans created in 2014 by Renew Financial, Citigroup, the state Treasury Department, and others.

AFC First Financial Corp., now part of Renew Financial, originally launched the program with the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund.

The Treasury Department then took the program statewide.

“It was critical to get these loans recognized as a true asset class,” Reese said, adding that programs such as these “are the engines of change.”

Rothwell, an architect, said she and Beauregard bought the 1915 brick expanded trinity three years ago and began the energy upgrades a year later.

“We couldn’t use the third floor [now the bedroom of their son, Luke, 2] for that first year because it was too hot,” she said.

In a project that took about a week, Orange Energy Solutions of Broomall insulated and air-sealed the houses and replaced the duct work, among other improvements, she said.

“It has made a difference in our heating bill – lowering it to $80 a month from $100,” Rothwell said.

Write to Alan J. Heavens at aheavens@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alheavens.

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