Federal funding to the tune of $1 million is available for home energy upgrade loans in Pitkin, Eagle and Gunnison counties through the Energy Smart Colorado program.
Known as a “revolving loan fund,” with its roots in the stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009, the funds are available to homeowners who have received an energy audit through the Energy Smart program. In partnership in the Roaring Fork Valley with the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE), Energy Smart teams up businesses and residents with professionals to determine ways to make a home more energy efficient and save on heating and electricity bills.
Often, an energy assessment leads to recommendations for capital projects that have a high up-front cost, but offer savings in the long run. Thus, many homeowners feel that they cannot afford to make the changes.
“The revolving loan fund is so exciting because homeowners who want to upgrade their homes but don’t have the equity, collateral or ability to borrow through traditional banks now have a solution,” Marty Treadway, program manager for Energy Smart in Pitkin County, said in a statement.
The program is seen as a fill-in for a stalled initiative that would have allowed local governments to take out bonds, and then loan those funds to homeowners to make energy upgrades. The loan would have been paid back as an addition to the home’s property tax bill, meaning if the home was sold, the new owner would be responsible for the payments. Pitkin County voters supported the program by more than 70 percent in 2010. The program was derailed, however, when federal home loan giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae said they would not back loans for homes involved in the endeavor.
Loans from the new energy smart program would not stay with the property, and would be the responsibility of the person who took them out.
More information is available by contacting CORE, which has three offices in the valley. The website is www.AspenCORE.org .
The revolving loan program is one of a handful of new initiatives CORE is working on this summer under the guidance of new director Mona Newton, who started last month and comes from the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office.
Long said she wants to raise the community’s awareness of CORE’s ability to serve as a “one stop shop” for information and services related to energy efficiency.
CORE is a beneficiary of the “Renewable Energy Mitigation Program,” administered through local building codes, that requires new homes that consume excessive energy to either provide on-site features like solar panels or pay a fee. The fee supports rebates for other homeowners who undertake their own upgrades.
It comes down to packaging information, services and financing, Newton said.
Other upcoming initiatives include allowing CORE rebates to be used for solar panel leasing, which must be approved by Aspen City Council and Pitkin County commissioners. The organization is also looking to conduct energy efficiency retrofits on multi-family buildings around town.