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Saving Energy and Dollars...

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Reports the Benefits of Nebraska Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), released a report last year comparing the Nebraska Dollar and Energy Saving Loan Program to similar programs in other states. Nebraska Energy Office Director, David Bracht and other staff members contributed to the report — Green Bank Accounting: Examining the Current Landscape and Tallying Progress on Energy Efficiency. The goal of the Report was to study the economic potential of financing energy efficiency, enhancing energy security, and promoting environmental protection. The Report, released last year, studied the progress of six "green banks" from across the U.S. Green banks are entities typically created by state and local governments to address the barriers faced by consumers and lenders in financing clean energy projects and environmentally beneficial technologies. They take many shapes, but in general green banks:

  • are publicly chartered financing institutions,
  • have a mandate to invest in clean energy,
  • leverage public funds to stimulate private capital, and
  • offer products across sectors, focusing on bridging market gaps.
The Report found that established institutions like the Connecticut green bank tend to have portfolios emphasizing renewable investments. In contrast are programs, like Nebraska’s Dollar and Energy Saving Loans, that were developed with a specific mission to save customers money through energy efficiency investments. The Report also examined the extent to which green banks and utilities coordinate their program offerings. It was found that most green banks work in tandem with utility-administered programs, leveraging ratepayer-funded programs to achieve deeper energy savings.

The Report looked at whether green banks are an appropriate tool for all states or local governments. While green banks are important strategies for many states and can complement existing efforts, they may not be well suited everywhere. States, localities, and efficiency program administrators together may be able to fill gaps in the financing market without creating a green bank. In one state, a yearlong stakeholder process examining the pros and cons of establishing a green bank led to a collective decision to set up a voluntary collaborative rather than a new, separate financing institution.

The Report concluded that green banks are still relatively new, and there's a significant opportunity to expand and refine program offerings. The potential to facilitate combined delivery of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs has not been fully maximized to date. Refining green bank program marketing and delivery in order to maximize combined projects will be an important step in meeting increasingly ambitious state goals for clean energy deployment.