Sun rises on new energy program

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO – The sun is about to rise on a bill that would empower towns, cities, and counties to help homeowners and businesses finance solar and wind clean energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.

House Bill 1350 “Clean Energy Home Financing” is being heard this afternoon in the House Transportation and Energy Committee. The bill is sponsored by House Majority Leader Alice Madden (D-Boulder) and Sen. Chris Romer (D-Denver). 

House Bill 1350 will enable the state, cities and counties, to provide low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses for investment in renewable energy and efficiency measures that can then be paid back overtime through a property lien, making clean energy improvements. 

“Even with rebates, the average homeowner might not think they can afford to install energy efficiency or clean energy improvements in their homes,” said Rep. Madden. “Now they can.  House Bill 1350 brings power to the people.”  

Colorado homeowners and businesses stand to benefit greatly from clean energy and efficiency improvements, saving them money on their energy bills while also helping the state cut its global warming pollution.  Unfortunately, the high upfront costs and high interest rates of most current finance options make the improvements out of reach for many Coloradans. 

Environment Colorado, a statewide environmental advocacy organization, brought-up the idea of “Clean Energy Home Financing” after meeting with clean energy advocates and finance experts to help overcome the high upfront cost hurdle that can often face homeowners and businesses. 
“We can bring the new energy economy home,” said Pam Kiely, legislative program director of Environment Colorado. “Our homes and businesses can be the power plants of our community by creating clean and affordable power.”

Boulder County is looking at creating a clean energy finance program this year should “Clean Energy Home Financing” pass. 

“Financing energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sources has always been a challenge. This bill provides a model for how it can be done,” said Boulder Commissioner Will Toor.  “The governor has asked every Coloradan to work with him in cutting the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. This bill gives Colorado’s local governments, including Boulder County, the opportunity to move quickly to help residents invest in energy efficiency measures and renewable energy, and join the governor in that mission.”

Supporters of a unique financing program for homegrown power include the Colorado Municipal League, Boulder County, Eagle County, the City of Longmont, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Environment Colorado, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (CoSEIA), Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES), Bergey Windpower, Southwest Windpower, Inc., Skyfuel, AVA Solar, All Solar, Inc., Skylight Specialists, Inc., REC Solar, Standard Renewable Energy, Audubon Colorado, Center for Native Ecosystems, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council.

Supporters met today at the Capitol prior to the bill’s consideration in House committee.  For the occasion, Namaste Solar Electric, a local clean energy business, brought solar panels to showcase. 
About House Bill 1350 “Clean Energy Home Financing”

  • Permits local governments to utilize some or all of their federally-authorized and state “pass-through” volume cap allocation to issue bonds to create a fund for providing loans for private renewable energy systems and energy efficiency installations.
  • Authorizes counties and statutory cities/towns to provide certain funding from their annual budgets in support of programs that fund capital improvements to residences and commercial structures for renewable energy systems and/or energy efficiency installations.  
  • Revises both the city and county powers acts to allow cities and counties to create improvement districts for the purpose of investing in renewable energy resources.
  • Enables the Clean Energy Development Authority to use its bonding capacity to support local programs for renewable energy and energy efficiency investment.