The Pennsylvania Treasury, in partnership with leading national clean energy finance company Renew Financial and the Energy Programs Consortium Thursday announced the relaunch of the award-winning Keystone Home Energy Loan Program (KeystoneHELP)
KeystoneHELP provides Pennsylvania homeowners with up to $20,000 of affordable financing for home energy efficiency improvements.
KeystoneHELP is additionally supported by the Department of Environmental Protection and the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority. (Photo: DEP Secretary John Quigley.)
Originally launched statewide in 2006, KeystoneHELP is an innovative public/private partnership that allowed approximately 14,000 homeowners to borrow up to $15,000 at very competitive rates for a range of home improvements, including HVAC equipment, water heaters, air conditioning, roofing, insulation, windows, doors, siding, geothermal power systems, and other improvements.
Before going dormant in July 2014 due to a lack of funding, the program became a national model for residential energy efficiency financing.
The relaunch of KeystoneHELP will build on the significant economic and environmental impacts that earlier projects are already having. Those projects are estimated to produce energy efficiencies that -- over the life of the loans -- will reduce utility bills by more than $140 million, avoid 421,633 metric tons of greenhouse gases and save .53 terawatt hours of electricity.
Additionally, these projects will reduce natural gas usage by an estimated 15.7 million therms, cut heating oil consumption by 6 million gallons and lower propane usage by 1.9 million gallons.
The relaunch is made possible, in part, by a first-of-its kind financing partnership that includes PennVEST – the state’s water infrastructure development authority.
Pennsylvania is the first state in the country to use its revolving water funds to support loans financing residential energy efficiency improvements that protect water quality by reducing airborne emissions.
KeystoneHELP is also supported by a secondary loan market created by the Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans (WHEEL), the only national financing facility that offers affordable financing for home energy efficiency projects not only in Pennsylvania but also in many other states in the country.
WHEEL was created in 2014 through a collaboration involving Renew Financial, Pennsylvania Treasury, Citigroup, EPC and others.
KeystoneHELP was originally launched in 2006 by energy efficiency lender AFC First Financial Corporation, now a part of Renew Financial, as a pilot program with the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund and expanded statewide with Pennsylvania Treasury shortly after.
The program was recognized with a 2013 Stars of Energy Efficiency award from the Alliance to Save Energy and won several other energy efficiency awards. And both Renew Financial and Citi were recognized with an Energy Efficiency award from Environmental Finance in March 2016, which noted the first WHEEL securitization as one of the “Deals of the Year.”
KeystoneHELP efficiency loans are fixed-rate loans with longer terms available than typical bank financing. Since there is no penalty for prepayment, homeowners may pay it off at any time.
Benefits To Consumers
Philadelphia homeowner Lizzie Rothwell is a KeystoneHELP customer who has realized significant savings on her utility bills thanks to various home efficiency upgrades she completed, including roof coating and insulation, new Energy Star appliances, electric panel replacements, new ductwork and air sealing.
"My husband and I bought a traditional Philadelphia trinity-style townhouse that was built around 1915 and definitely in need of some updates,” said Rothwell. “We quickly realized that our top priority was to upgrade the energy performance. KeystoneHELP made it possible for us to finance a package of home energy improvements with a reassuringly low and fixed interest rate. The drop in our utility bills was immediately apparent, and our house is much more comfortable year-round as a result of the improvements."
“We are extremely proud to be able to again offer the KeystoneHELP program to Pennsylvania residents, enabling them to make crucial energy efficiency improvements to their homes,” said Renew Financial CEO Cisco DeVries. “Our goal is to help homeowners across the country make these much needed home improvements to reduce their energy use and utility bills, and this is one more step in achieving that goal.”
KeystoneHELP program features include: Low, fixed interest rate; Fixed monthly payments; Loans up to $20,000, unsecured financing; Flexible repayment terms of 5, 7 or 10 years; 100 percent of the project can be financed; Thousands of eligible improvements to save energy,and money; Up to 25 percent of the financed amount can be used for non-qualifying products; Work completed by KeystoneHELP Registered Contractors; No upfront costs and no hidden fees; Fast, simple approval and application process; and Strong consumer protections
Registered Network of Contractors
Renew Financial is building mutually beneficial relationships with contractors/dealers in the home services industry. All contractors who participate in the KeystoneHELP program are fully licensed and have received training on the program and how to respond to consumer inquiries.
Only approved contractors/dealers are allowed to perform work under this financing and more than 250 contractors statewide have already enrolled in the program since enrollments opened last month.Pennsylvania residents interested in learning more details about KeystoneHELP should go to the Keystone Home Energy Loan Program website.