New loan program in Vermont helps homeowners go solar

New loan programs in Vermont helps homeowners go solar

Windham county residents have a new incentive to go solar, thanks to the Vermont Public Service Department’s Clean Energy Development Fund. Administered through VSECU (Vermont’s state-wide credit union), this program offers a reduction in already discounted renewable energy loan interest rates. Combined with other incentives and tax credits, now is the time to consider installing a solar energy system on your home.

Windham Solar Loan eligibility

This loan is available to residents of Windham County who would otherwise qualify for a renewable energy loan.

The solar loan program targets owner occupied residential properties and group net-metered community systems located in the county. It is not available for commercial solar energy systems.

It can be used for either domestic solar water heaters or residential solar photovoltaic systems. Additionally, the loan can be used to buy panels in a community solar array if the array is located in Windham County and is not larger than 500kW.

Windham Solar Loan terms

The benefit of this new program is that it reduces the already discounted interest rates of VGreen energy savings loans offered through VSECU. Reductions range from 0.25 percent to 1.35 percent based on the applicant’s annual income. For example, if a family living in Windham County applies for a $10,000 loan and they earn more than $76,440 a year, their loan interest rate would be reduced by 0.25 percent. However, if they earn less than $50,960, their reduction would climb to 1.35 percent. The final loan rates vary because they are based on the circumstances and preferences of each applicant.

Residents can apply for either unsecured or secured loans. The unsecured Energy Improvement Loan at VSECU can be extended for up to 15 years, offers a low fixed rate and is a good choice for residents who may not have equity in their home yet.

The Discounted Energy Improvement Home Equity Loan through VSECU can also be coupled with the Windham Solar Loan program. By borrowing up to 90 percent of the value of the system, residents pay a low fixed rate that can be extended up to 15 years, and there are no closing costs.

The minimum amount residents can borrow is $5,000 and standard underwriting criteria apply.

State Historic Preservation Office

Residents who own homes that are more than 50 years old, or are located in a historic district may need to comply with requirements of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). A compliance form with the appropriate signatures will need to be submitted to VSECU before your loan can be finalized.

Program restrictions

As previously noted, the Windham Solar Loan program is not designed for commercial installations and must be applied to new solar energy projects in Windham County, not those that have already begun. Standard Offer Program projects are not eligible.

Residents must have their solar energy systems installed by a Clean Energy Development Fund-approved photovoltaic installer. Do-it-yourself installations do not qualify.

Materials for energy improvements need to be new, with the exception of solar panels which are currently part of a community solar array. Residents may use the Windham Solar Loan program to buy into an existing community group net-metered solar installation.

Windham Solar Loan process

The first step is to contact your solar energy system installer and plan out your project. Second, you need to fill out the Windham Solar Loan application. Here is a link to the application:

Your installer needs to fill out the verification portion of this form and provide you with an installer quote for your project.

Next, decide which loan works best for you. You can choose from the unsecured Energy Improvement Loan or the Discounted Energy Improvement Home Equity Loan. Here are links to each of these loans for more information:

Energy Improvement Loan:

Discounted Energy Improvement Home Equity Loan:

Once you have chosen your loan, you will work with VSECU to process your loan. There is an easy online application here:

VSECU representatives also can help you coordinate your federal tax credits with your loan. If you need to work with the State Historic Preservation Office, be sure to get that documentation to the credit union as well. Once your project is approved, installation can begin.

A great time to go solar

Because these funds will be available only through March 2017, or until they run out, if you have been thinking about installing a solar energy system, now is the time to act. In addition to reduced financing costs, customers also can take advantage of the federal residential renewable energy tax credit. This is a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the total cost of the project, including installation, and can be carried over into the next year if it exceeds your total tax liability. Moreover, residents of Vermont do not have to pay sales tax or municipal property taxes on these projects.

There’s no better time than now to switch to clean energy, stabilize your utility bills and go solar.

RGS Energy has almost 40 years of experience in installing solar energy systems throughout the country, in a wide variety of settings. To learn more about the Windham Solar Loan program, call RGS at 888-567-6527.

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