Sandra Keirnan is delighted. An innovative energy financing program has helped her upgrade her 125-year-old home in the small city of Holland, Michigan, making it twice as efficient and much more comfortable. It used to be drafty on cold days, sweltering on hot ones, and expensive to run! EESI was pleased to work with the City of Holland and local partners to help get their “On Bill Loan Program” off the ground! Watch our short four-minute video to see more of Sandra’s story, as well as stories from other Holland residents, contractors, and city officials.

Holland, which got its name from the Dutch immigrants who founded the community in 1847, is best known for its beautiful tulip fields and picturesque downtown. But now it has one more feather in its cap: an innovative, successful energy efficiency program for its residents, including those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford expensive energy upgrades.

Holland just celebrated one year of having the program operational. More than $1 million overall was invested in the homes of the first 56 participants (an average of $18,000 each). The participants did not have to pay any upfront costs; instead, they will gradually repay the energy upgrade costs in monthly installments on their energy bills—a method known as “on-bill financing.”

Holland officials are pushing to expand the program, as they are hopeful the energy savings will free up to $10 million for the local economy. The program should improve the city’s older housing stock, attracting new residents and keeping existing ones in the small city, as well as create local contractor jobs, help reduce the need to build new power plants, and raise the city’s tax base. In its first phase, the Holland program aims to retrofit at least 300 homes with a $3 million line of credit, with the ultimate goal of improving the energy efficiency of 7,400 homes by 50 percent.

Beyond Holland, EESI is working with numerous rural electric cooperatives and small municipal utilities across the country to help them secure such benefits! For example, we’re helping these small utilities access low-interest and no-interest loan funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, funds which can in turn be loaned to homeowners for their energy upgrades.

As an independent nonprofit organization, EESI relies on its funding partners—including The JPB Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, the New York Community Trust, and individual donors—to make this work possible. One of EESI’s goals is to assist families—especially low- and moderate-income families in rural areas that are struggling economically—reduce the amount of energy they use, cut their energy bills, and improve the comfort of their homes. Our overarching goal is ensuring that we as a nation are progressing toward resilient and sustainable infrastructure in our towns and cities. For more information: http://www.eesi.org/obf