New Federal Credit Union Offers Better Loans For Green Energy

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Dec. 15 2017, Updated 2:24 p.m. ET

There isn’t a lot of trust with between consumers and the federal government in terms of regulating clean energy. While it’s becoming cheaper to buy into it, many solutions still require financing that’s harder or more expensive than it should be. A new credit union with a single focus to benefit our environment will be giving out loans with additional opportunities to invest into sustainability.

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The Clean Energy Federal Credit Union will be launching at the end of this year. In September, they received their federal charter and will be opening their main office in Boulder, Colorado. Their service is available in all 50 states, but there will be no branches in other locations. Instead, all of the banking will be done online.

Ultimately, the CECU wants to be a lender that makes it easier and more affordable to purchase clean energy solutions. These options could be installing solar panels on the roof, purchasing an electric vehicle, optimizing a home with efficient energy, and more. Better loan rates are provided thanks to lower overhead costs from being a mobile-only institution and their earnings are paid back to members, not stockholders like traditional banks.

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Blake Jones is a former oil and gas engineer that’s also the founding board chair of the CECU. During his time expanding a solar energy installation company, financing was a major concern as the product was new and banks weren’t as willing to offer assistance. He and a group of backers spent four years raising funds to meet federal charter requirements.

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“Everyone wants to own their own home and when people find out they can own their own electricity generation asset instead of having to buy from the utility company their entire life, that's an exciting proposition too,” Jones told the Credit Union Times.

It’s quite easy to invest in the CECU. Anybody can deposit money into a savings account or they can purchase a “Clean Energy CD” for 10 years, and everything is insured by the federal government. Every dollar that’s deposited or donated will go toward a clean energy loan. Over the opening years, the credit union expects to have $50 million in deposits with $5 million in donations.

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“Clean Energy Loans” and “Share Secured Loans” are also offered at the credit union. The former can work as a replacement for a monthly electric bill with a payment plan on a solar system, which is the only option initially. Once it’s paid off, you’ll own it. The other type of loan offers a way to build credit or to receive some spending money without needing to take anything out of savings.

A number of other options are expected to be in place by 2019. This includes opening a checking account, using ATM and credit cards, and receiving loans for optimizing home efficiency and purchasing electric vehicles. CECU provides a unique approach to clean energy investment and provides one of the earliest, easy ways to purchase renewable power.

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