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Energy Efficiency Financing – Clean Energy Made Affordable

Although its benefits usually outweigh its costs, energy efficiency can be expensive. Even with generous utility incentives, upfront costs for an efficiency upgrade can run several thousand dollars. Fortunately, Lime Energy offers energy efficiency financing that minimizes sticker shock. With financing packages that can extend to five years, we make efficiency affordable from day one.

By its very nature and despite our best attempts to avoid it, energy efficiency is expensive. While it is still the cheapest fuel (it is cheaper to save energy with energy efficiency than to generate that energy using coal/gas power plants or wind/solar renewable sources), energy efficiency carries a considerable upfront cost. Combining the price of new lights and HVAC systems with the costs to install them causes dollar signs to accumulate quickly. Those prices have gone down, especially as the going rate plummets for LED lights, but not enough for all small business owners to be able to pay for an EE upgrade upfront. Any way you slice it, these costs add up. But at Lime Energy, we understand that many businesses cannot afford to pay all of these expenses upfront. That is why we have developed a number of strategies to offset and delay these costs to ensure that your small business upgrade is immediately profitable. So while EE looks expensive with a wide lens, no one should have to shoulder these costs at once. Lime Energy’s energy efficiency financing lets small business owners reap the benefits of new, more efficient fixtures while they pay off their cost, allowing almost anyone to afford energy efficiency.

The first step to reducing the cost of energy efficiency comes via your utility company. Almost all utility companies offer some sort of energy efficiency program for their ratepayers and in many cases they provide incentives specifically earmarked for small business customers. In most territories where Lime Energy operates, the utilities offer to pay up to seventy percent of the cost of an energy efficiency upgrade. Sometimes they pay the whole thing! Even on occasions where the utility incentive is less than one hundred percent, an incentive rate of 60 or 70 percent is a huge factor to reducing costs. With the utilities’ assistance, we can reduce a project costs by more than half before we even introduce our financing options.

If a project is still too expensive after applying the utility incentive, Lime Energy has energy efficiency financing options that allow more customers to take advantage of that incentive without breaking the bank. Our standard offering gives small business owners a 12-month payment plan with zero percent interest and we have also begun to roll out even longer plans (as long as five years!). These payment plans extend the cost of repayment over the course of a year (or more) without placing any additional burden on our small business customers. Rather than paying the entire cost upfront, small businesses can make smaller payments as the energy savings roll in. This helps overcome the lack of capital investment, which is one of the most common barriers to small business participation in utility efficiency programs. It also creates a cash flow positive environment because in many instances the monthly payment is actually lower than the energy savings created by the efficiency upgrades. Small businesses don’t need to opt for the full twelve-month payback – they can pay upfront, choose a shorter payback period, opt into the twelve-month plan, or take advantage of a limited opportunity to extend the life of the plan beyond one year.  The key here – and truly in all elements of our energy efficiency offerings – is choice. We want to give small businesses the power to choose the clean energy solution that is best for them and financing is just one of the options that grants authority to business owners.

Small businesses are not the only ones who can benefit from financing offerings. Utility companies also can benefit from small business programs with customer financing like those implemented by Lime Energy. Lime’s payment plans improve customer participation across all utility incentive rates. As utilities seek to drive down incentive rates, as they are doing across the country, energy efficiency financing plans are an essential component of maintaining program success at lower rates. By giving customers a chance to pay back their portion over time, Lime Energy can still install comprehensive projects even with a reduced utility contribution. We don’t need to rely on the cheapest measures nor do we cherry-pick the ripest customers. We can still reach the majority of a utility’s small business customer segment because we offer financing options that make efficiency affordable with lower incentive support than previously available.

Energy efficiency investment has seen dramatic growth across the country in recent years. To sustain that growth, efficiency providers will need to continue to offer customers affordable clean energy solutions that fit their specific needs rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. By providing customer financing plans, Lime Energy gives small business ratepayers the power to choose the option that is best for them while also reducing the hefty upfront costs that discourage so many clean energy projects

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