Maui Business

State’s GreenSun Program to Finance Energy Projects

October 26, 2011, 5:38 PM HST
* Updated October 28, 1:48 PM
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Mark Glick, Administrator of DBEDT’s State Energy Office, Gary Fujitani, Executive Vice-President of the Hawaii Bankers Association and Phaeton Keeney, Manager of the Honoka'a People's Theatre. Photo by Photo Ops Hawaii

By Sonia Isotov

Hoping to help  make solar energy investments more affordable, the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) and the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation yesterday launched GreenSun Hawaii, an innovative energy financing program.

“Because of state and federal tax rebates, Hawaii has the most solar water heaters and is second in solar electric installations in the country. Now, we can make these and other energy-saving technologies available to more people, especially those who have not been able to afford upfront costs,” said Mark Glick, Administrator of DBEDT’s State Energy Office, in the written statement.

“The rebates are available only after spending the money on the equipment, but GreenSun financing take it a step further by allowing more residents and businesses to buy the equipment, save on their electric bills, and help us get to our goal of 70% clean energy by 2030.”

GreenSun Hawaii loans will feature longer terms and lower interest rates than loans offered outside of the program. The goal is to provide financing options that will result in lower monthly payments in comparison to the customers’ current utility bills.

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Made available through a Recovery Act grant from the US Department of Energy, GreenSun will work in partnership with approved Hawaii-based solar contractors in enabling customers to apply for financing for solar water heating and other energy-efficient equipment with up to three participating lenders of their choice through an online application.

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GreenSun Hawaii is intended to stimulate affordable private lending for energy efficiency and renewable energy installations by covering part of a lender’s risk.  It is anticipated that a number of financial institutions will participate in the program and extend financing with competitive terms and rates to a larger pool of customers.  Structured as a long-term public-private partnership, the GreenSun Hawaii program is capable of leveraging $2.691 million in federal funds into $98.5 million in clean energy loans over the next 15 years.

“GreenSun is a great example of how we are leveraging federal funds to put money in local people’s pockets,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie.  “This $2.69 million investment can grow to millions in loans that will lower the state’s consumption of imported oil and free up consumer dollars through energy savings. It helps our people, it protects our aina, and it contributes to our local economy.”

Here is how it works. Capitalized with $2.691 million in federal funds, GreenSun Hawaii provides partner financial institutions access to a loan loss reserve which may cover between 10 to 100% of defaults on eligible energy efficiency and renewal energy system financing.  For every loan that is approved under the GreenSun Hawaii program, HCRC will deposit between 4 to 14% into a reserve account to be made available to the lender in the event of a default.  As loans are repaid, the funds will be reinvested into new clean energy loans.

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Dr. Tawn Keeney, owner of the Honoka‘a People’s Theater, which is one of the oldest and largest theaters in Hawaii, is one of the first recipients of the GreenSun Hawaii program. “With the financial help from The Queen’s Federal Credit Union and the installation of the solar electric (photovoltaic) equipment by Renewable Energy Services, Inc., GreenSun Hawaii has allowed me to achieve my goal to making the theater more sustainable,” said Dr. Keeney.

“With this program, we will be able to reduce our operating expenses while having tangible positive environmental impacts in our community such as avoiding an estimated 720,000 lbs of CO2 and reducing the use of 11,688 gallons of oil, which can be used over the life of the system. What’s interesting is that this amount is equivalent to planting 1,736 trees,” Keeney continued.

For more information about GreenSun Hawaii, including loan application and solar contractor and financial institution listings, please visit: http://www.greensunhawaii.com.

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