Energy Research Hot Spot: Inclusive Financing
Inclusive financing programs, structured using an opt-in tariff, allows more Americans to access cost-saving energy efficiency and renewable generation improvements — often out of reach due to their high upfront cost and other barriers. Under the framework, the utility covers the cost of eligible improvements then recoups its investment by collecting regular payments on participating customers’ monthly bills.
The energy savings from the upgrades immediately lower customers’ bills, even during the payback period. Inclusive financing are a key tool in shaping a more affordable, equitable clean energy economy because they are open to anyone, including renters and those with low credit scores.
Here, you’ll find ILSR’s original research and perspective on inclusive financing.
Energy efficiency and renewables represent the most promising pathway to lower energy costs for individual consumers and utilities. Programs that help utility customers pursue home improvements, like better insulation or rooftop solar panels, can slash monthly utility bills and eliminate the need for utilities to add costly — and outdated — power and gas infrastructure. The upside is undeniable, with energy efficiency measures alone predicted to save customers $2 trillion by 2030. But limited access hinders progress. The best energy efficiency programs serve less than 2% of customers each year, and few reach the majority of a utility’s customers, including renters, customers without strong credit, and low- and moderate-income households, who pay disproportionately high energy bills.
Utilities can knock down major barriers to energy efficiency and renewables by allowing customers to make site-specific investments and recovering utility costs through an opt-in tariff. Tariffed on-bill programs are often referred to as inclusive financing because they allow all utility customers the option to access cost effective upgrades. Inclusive financing solves many of the problems dogging the push for a more sustainable, affordable, and equitable energy economy because, unlike loan-based programs, tariffed on-bill programs are open to all customers regardless of their income, credit score, or renter status.
Our Articles Featuring Inclusive Financing:
Arkansas Utility Leads on Energy, Broadband by Karlee Weinmann and Hannah Trostle, March 2, 2017
Instead of Lobbying, Top 25 Utilities Could Have Doubled U.S. Solar Capacity by John Farrell, April 25, 2016
A 2-Year City Workplan for Energy Democracy by John Farrell, November 21, 2014
Webinar Offerings from Allies:
- Introduction to Inclusive Financing for Energy Efficiency
- Update on Inclusive Financing Programs in the South
- March – Session 1: Consumer Protections in Inclusive Financing for Energy Efficiency
- April – Session 2: Due Diligence
- May – Session 3: Program Operator Models
- June – Session 4: Establishing a Reserve Fund
- July – Session 5: Sourcing Capital
- August – Session 6: Workforce Development
Infographics on Inclusive Financing:
Report from Allies:
- From WeOwnIt: Opening Opportunities with Inclusive Financing for Energy Efficiency: Preliminary Results of the Ouachita Electric HELP PAYS® Program
Podcast Episodes Featuring Inclusive Financing:
Model Inclusive Financing Resolution (passed by Mitchell County, North Carolina in March 2017)