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Title: Final Technical Report_Clean Energy Program_SLC-SELF

This is the Final Technical Report for DOE's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, Award No. DE-EE0003813, submitted by St. Lucie County, FL (prime recipient) and the Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF), the program's third-party administrator. SELF is a 501(c)(3) and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). SELF is a community-based lending organization that operates the Clean Energy Loan Program, which focuses on improving the overall quality of life of underserved populations in Florida with an emphasis on home energy improvements and cost-effective renewable energy alternatives. SELF was launched in 2010 through the creation of the non-profit organization and with a $2.9 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block (EECBG) grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). SELF has its main office and headquarters in St. Lucie County, in the region known as the Treasure Coast in East-Central Florida. St. Lucie County received funding to create SELF as an independent non-profit institution, outside the control of local government. This was important for SELF to create its identity as an integral part of the business community and to help in its quest to become a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). This goal was accomplished in 2013, allowing SELF tomore » focus on its mission to increase energy savings while serving markets that have struggled to find affordable financial assistance. These homeowners are most impacted by high energy costs. Energy costs are a disproportionate percentage of household expenses for low to moderate income (LMI) households. Electricity costs have been steadily rising in Florida by nearly 5% per year. Housing in LMI neighborhoods often includes older inefficient structures that further exacerbate the problem. Despite the many available clean energy solutions, most LMI property owners do not have the disposable income or equity in their homes necessary to afford the high upfront cost of energy retrofits. As a result, LMI property owners cannot achieve energy savings nor can they capture the assorted rebates and tax credits available for home energy improvements. Florida has one of the highest energy consumption rates in the country, in part due to high air conditioning use year-round, which has worsened with summer heat waves and record highs. Because the State has the 14th highest electricity rates nationwide, its residents greatly benefit from reducing their monthly energy costs. Reduced energy consumption by making energy-efficient improvements to buildings decreases the “carbon footprint” and provides environmental benefits and social good. Moreover, if Floridians save money on utilities, they can spend these savings on other things, boosting their local economy. Through its Clean Energy Loan Program, SELF is breaking down these barriers by helping LMI homeowners identify systemic solutions to their rising energy costs (through an energy audit performed by a state-certified energy rater) and then providing favorable financing to enable them to make these recommended home energy improvements. SELF’s clients are reducing their energy consumption by an average of 15-25%, depending on the types of improvements, and using the energy savings, rebates, and tax credits to help pay off the loans over time. Its clients are also enhancing their quality of life, making much-needed home improvements, and increasing the market value of their properties. The work performed for the program’s clients is also stimulating much-needed employment and economic development activity in the hardest hit job sector in Florida (i.e., the construction industry) and in geographic areas decimated by the recession and housing market collapse. SELF is a rare institution in that it joins social and financial missions, offering a helping hand to those without the means to find affordable financing. This supports the grant’s original project goal to become a leader and innovator in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives, such as solar technologies. SELF has been operational for more than 2 1/2 years and has completed 810 energy audits and closed 246 loans totaling more than $2 million. More than 70 percent of its loan activity has been in CDFI investment areas and 40 percent of SELF’s clients are women. Additionally, SELF clients have cumulatively reduced their carbon footprint by 950 metric tons, and are taking a small but important individual step toward energy independence. One of the primary goals of the Clean Energy Loan Problem was to increase the number of jobs in a market that has struggled significantly with unemployment, especially in the construction trades. This has been accomplished. Based on ARRA computations, SELF added 84 FTEs in the region during the period from September 2010-September 2013. This figure does not fully reflect the hundreds of individuals who received work through SELF projects – including full-time SELF staff members, vendors, and contractor employees. More than 38 contractors have been approved by SELF to provide services. Many have reported a substantial amount of business as a result. One local air-conditioning company congratulated SELF for increasing his business by an estimated 25 percent each year. Increasing the number of sustainable, quality jobs in the region has been one of the truly gratifying aspects of the Clean Energy Loan Program.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
St. Lucie County, FL (SLC)/Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS energy efficiency; energy conservation; CDFI; low-interest loans; financing; revolving loan fund