Low interest loan to help residents make energy upgrades

Local loan program gets $500,000 boost from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

CINCINNATI – March 29, 2012 – The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance) announced today that The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) will invest $500,000 into a local loan program that helps residents make energy upgrades to their homes, typically saving residents 20 percent or more on their annual energy bills.

This “impact investment,” a type of loan made with charitable funds, is being made to the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance’s loan program, which provides unsecured loans of up to $20,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6.99 percent to qualified residents to make their homes more energy efficient.  In addition, homeowners who use the loan program can save up to 35 percent on the total cost of the upgrades.  That means $10,000 in upgrades to such things as windows, doors, insulation and/or heating and cooling systems would only cost a homeowner $6,500.

“This is really a win-win for everyone,’’ said Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Energy Alliance. “This contribution is helping us achieve our goals in creating a sustainable loan fund, and helps us potentially attract more national funding that will cut down the cost for future investors. “And all the while, we are able to provide homeowners real savings to improve their homes, lower their utility costs and create jobs for local contractors, which is making a real and continued investment in our local economy.’’

That is exactly why The Greater Cincinnati Foundation made an impact investment in GCEA, said Robert Killins, GCF’s Program Director of Vibrant Places.  The Foundation has made several grants to support the start-up operation of the Energy Alliance since 2009, including $250,000 in grants to conduct energy assessments and retrofits for nonprofit organizations. To date, the Energy Alliance has leveraged approximately $20 million dollars in public and private capital to facilitate energy efficiency for homeowners, nonprofit organizations and commercial building owners.

“Impact investments use charitable assets to support projects that can generate revenue and financial returns as well as direct community benefits,” he said. “They help make an even greater difference in multiple ways right here where we live.”

The goal of the nonprofit Energy Alliance is to create a $10 million pooled loan fund, seeded with $2.5 million of a $17 million U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings grant, and raising $7.5 million in private capital to sustain the loan program. A sustainable loan fund will generate the following benefits:

  • GC-HELP is a low-cost, fixed rate, unsecured loan for up to 10 years is made available to qualified homeowners in Hamilton County in Ohio and Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky for both emergency and proactive energy improvements. There are no application fees. Comparable unsecured loans are offered at 15 percent, while many unsecured credit cards have rates over 20 percent.
  • Contractors can offer an attractive financing plan to help their customers make energy improvements in their homes, generating more business for the region’s contractors.
  • Lenders can participate in an attractive investment opportunity that allows them to invest in a new market, reach new consumers and deploy their capital with significantly mitigated risk.

Homeowners and contractors can apply online at www.greatercea.org/loan.

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. The Energy Alliance provides education, expertise and innovative financing to help the region to become more energy efficient, saving money for residents while also creating local jobs. Visit www.greatercea.org

The Greater Cincinnati Foundationhelps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Visit http://www.gcfdn.org/

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