River Falls Municipal Utilities - Renewable Energy Finance Program

Program River Falls Municipal Utilities - Renewable Energy Finance Program
Category Financial Incentive
Implementing sector Local
Last Update
State Wisconsin
Administrator River Falls Municipal Utilities
Website http://www.rfcity.org/index.aspx?nid=679
Technologies Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Photovoltaics
Sectors Residential

River Falls Municipal Utilities (RFMU) offers loans of $2,500 - $50,000 to its residential customers for the installation of photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal, geothermal, wind electric systems. The program will also support the installation of energy efficiency measures in connection with a qualifying renewable energy project, provided that the renewable energy portion of the project comprises at least 50% of project costs. Systems that generate renewable electricity must be connected to the RFMU distribution grid. Loan terms vary by project, but may range from 5 -20 years at a current interest rate of 4%. Actual loan terms will be determined by program personnel based on the payback period for the improvements. In order to qualify for a loan, the project energy savings associated with a project must be at least 75% of the cost of the project plus loan interest over the life of the loan. In addition, projects for which costs exceed 125% of the average cost of similar improvements (as determined by program personnel) are not eligible for loans.

In order to receive a loan through this program, the home must already qualify as a Wisconsin Energy Star Home, or the applicant must first have a Home Performance with Energy Star home energy assessment performed prior applying for a loan. For PV and wind electric systems, a site assessment by a Focus on Energy (the state incentive program) approved contractor is also required, while an assessment is recommended for solar water heating projects. Systems must generally meet the requirements of the Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Incentives in order to qualify for a loan. Solar space heating and geothermal heating and cooling systems are not covered by the state program and thus are subject to separate standards. The program web site contains a detailed, step-by-step summary of the procedures a customer must follow in order to participate. Program pre-approval is required prior to the installation of any improvements.

The program is unique in that the repayment of loans takes place as a special fee on the customer's annual property tax bill (sometimes referred to as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE financing) as authorized by Wis. Stat. § 66.0627. The applicant must own the property upon which the improvements take place. Should the original owner of the property transfer ownership to another party, the balance of the loan is due immediately on the date of sale. However, the new owner may instead request approval to assume the loan balance under the existing terms and conditions.

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