NEW YORK–The Inclusiv Center for Resiliency and Clean Energy and Inclusive Prosperity Capital (IPC) have partnered to expand the “Smart-E Loan,” IPC’s national residential green lending program, to New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, according to the organizations.
Inclusiv said the expansion is being made possible due to philanthropic support from The Wells Fargo Foundation and the Community Investment Guarantee Pool. To mark the partnership, the organizations said Guadalupe Credit Union in Santa Fe will host a Home Energy Earth Day Celebration for local community-based lenders, home energy contractors, and local homeowners at its airport branch.
“The Smart-E Loan connects local community-led lenders with a network of vetted and approved contractors to help homeowners, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) homeowners, finance and implement home energy and water efficiency, clean energy, and climate resiliency projects,” The Inclusiv Center said. “The program helps homeowners save on utility bills by financing home improvements via flexible, low-interest loans and strong consumer protections.”
More Than $540M in Improvements
The organizations noted that since 2009, Connecticut, Michigan, and Colorado have been offering the Smart-E Loan and similar products, and that more than 44,000 homeowners across the three states have made more than $540 million worth of home improvements that reduced energy bills and “helped to make their homes more comfortable.”
“We’re seeing demand nationwide for a financing solution that will allow homeowners to afford the more energy efficient and green choice for their home,” said Kerry O’Neill, CEO at Inclusive Prosperity Capital. “This loan program also helps local businesses grow by giving contractors access to community lenders that help them serve even more customers. We’re thrilled to bring the Smart-E Loan’s affordable solution to communities across New Mexico, building on years of experience and success working with local lenders, contractors, and homeowners (in other states).”
A ‘Burgeoning Field’
The Inclusiv Center for Resiliency and Clean Energy said it leads the burgeoning field of community-based finance for climate action. “The Center drives affordable financing to rural, Tribal, environmental justice, and energy communities to help grow local cleantech markets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the organization stated. Inclusiv, in partnership with the Center for Impact Finance at University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy (UNH), said it runs a robust training program and network for community-based lenders – including Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs), Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), and community development banks – that are driving equitable decarbonization across the country.
“The lenders that the Inclusiv Center for Resiliency and Clean Energy supports have transformed access to clean energy and energy efficiency in LMI and BIPOC communities, particularly in areas that lack local support for climate action,” the organization said. “In just over two years, this training program has guided close to 200 community-based financial institutions across the U.S. to develop affordable financing for decarbonization and nearly 400 credit unions across the country already offer dedicated green loan products. A sample of just 73 of these lenders reported investing over $2.24 billion in green loans in the past 2-4 years, including financing solar installations to serve almost 20,000 households.”
According to the organizations, many of these same community lenders are using the Smart-E Loan program to reach LMI homeowners and communities historically marginalized by the financial system.
‘Building Financial Empowerment’
“Guadalupe Credit Union, a CDFI and MDI that is building financial empowerment in Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico, will fulfill this mission by offering the Smart-E Loan to homeowners of color and immigrant homeowners, who have limited access to safe and affordable loans,” the Inclusiv Center said. “In addition to the climate benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the program can help lower homeowners’ energy bills, increase their financial well-being, and may even increase their property values.”
The Inclusiv Center for Resiliency and Clean Energy and Inclusive Prosperity Capital said they are partnering with local groups in New Mexico that include the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, New Mexico Renewable Energy Industries Association, the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, the City of Santa Fe and others to bring the Smart-E Loan to the state.
‘Important Step Forward’
“This collaborative pilot to bring the Smart-E Loan program to New Mexico is an important step forward in expanding access to affordable green loans nationwide through innovative green lending platforms,” said Cathie Mahon, president/CEO, Inclusiv. “The lessons learned in New Mexico will help our organizations build credit unions’ green lending capacity nationally,”