“Ken Freestone is the City of Holland’s Residential Energy Advisor. He helps Holland homeowners make retrofits to their homes that maximize energy efficiency, from sealing air leaks to replacing windows to installing solar panels.
First, Freestone will help an interested homeowner identify their wants, like lower utility costs or better heating. Then, he works with an auditor and contractor to help the homeowner choose a retrofit plan that meets those wants best.
Freestone also helps the homeowner choose a financial plan offered by or through Holland’s municipal utility, the Board of Public Works (BPW). Its prime financial tool is the on-bill loan.
Instead of paying upfront, homeowners can take out a low-interest loan for any retrofit and tack it onto their electric bill. No credit scores or debt-to-income ratios are needed, only 12 months of on-time electric bill payments and three years being bankruptcy-free.
Many homeowners don’t even notice the loan. Freestone says their bills are often lower than their pre-loan rate thanks to energy upgrades.
Energy upgrade assistance is made possible by a line of credit from BPW to Holland Energy Fund, a nonprofit that enables the City of Holland to achieve the goals of its Community Energy Plan. The 40-year initiative gives the city goals to cut city CO2 emissions in half and improve home energy efficiency by 50 percent.
About a decade ago, Freestone wasn’t an energy adviser but a concerned Holland resident. A BPW coal plant was right within city limits, providing most of the city’s energy needs. Freestone, other residents and groups like WMEAC wanted it gone. “There was a lot of pressure for doing something different, and as a lot of community organizations said, doing it better,” said Freestone. With air quality permit lawsuits and increasing public pressure, Holland City Council hired Garforth & Associates to conduct an energy analysis on the community.
The subsequent report became the foundation for the 2011 Community Energy Plan. The Council then approved the coal plant’s closure, the construction of a natural gas plant and the purchase of sustainable energy from three regional sites.”
Read the full article at WMEAC.org: https://wmeac.org/improve-energy-efficiency-holland-turns-equitable-financing/2018/”
June 27, 2018 Beau Brockett Jr.