The Shumlin Administration and legislative leaders have proposed a new public-private loan program to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Clean Energy Loan Fund would consolidate existing state energy loan programs and increase private capital directed toward energy projects.
Jo Bradley is the CEO of the Vermont Economic Development Authority. She said the lower-interest loans would be targeted for business and commercial projects.
One new loan package is aimed at helping businesses use less energy. Banks would make the loans, but they would be 75 percent guaranteed by VEDA and other organizations. Bradley says the goal of the program is to guarantee about $10 million in loans.
"It’s not going to be a difficult process. You’re not going to have to go through your bank and VEDA. You just go to your bank. Your bank sends us the paperwork and we enroll the loan," she said.
Energy efficiency advocates say businesses should be able to repay the loans with the expected energy savings.
George Twigg is the public affairs director of Efficiency Vermont, which provides technical and financial assistance to reduce energy consumption statewide.
"Although energy efficiency pays off over time, the up-front costs can be a barrier to people making these improvements," he said. "So we have always been looking for better ways to provide financing options that are convenient, (with) attractive interest rates, easy to use, to help people get over that initial barrier."
The changes to the loan program require legislative approval. House Speaker Shap Smith said lawmakers would make the bill a priority.