Special financing program encourages geothermal installation
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania homeowners considering geothermal heat pump systems can now take advantage of a new and innovative financing package through the Commonwealth's energy efficiency loan program, the Keystone Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), which combines a low-interest HELP loan with a companion loan given in anticipation of federal tax credits available for the installation of these fuel-conserving systems.
The special rates available through this financing package for geothermal systems are made possible by federal economic stimulus funds awarded to the Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger announced this new, special financing program while visiting Peter and Laurel Hartwell, who are using Cleona-based G.F. Bowman, Inc. to install a geothermal heat pump system in their Hummelstown home.
"Geothermal systems are a fantastic way to save energy – but they require an initial investment, and it can take time to get the tax credit back from the federal government," Treasurer McCord said. "This important addition to the Keystone HELP program helps Pennsylvania homeowners to do the right thing for the environment without putting a strain on their families' cash flow."
"Geothermal really is one of the great, largely untapped forms of renewable energy that is available to us," said DEP Secretary Hanger. "Fortunately, families are increasingly recognizing this and are making the smart decision to put geothermal systems in their homes. These systems often pay for themselves within five to 10 years and can cut at least 50 percent off of an average home's utility bills by using the constant temperature of the Earth."
Keystone HELP is an innovative, nationally recognized program that provides low-interest loans to homeowners for energy conservation improvements. To encourage residential installation of geothermal heat pump systems, Keystone HELP created a special financing program for this equipment that features lower rates than the program's standard energy efficiency loans.
Qualifying homeowners can take advantage of an unsecured 4.99% loan for up to $15,000 with a term of up to ten years. Treasurer McCord noted that homeowners can also elect to take an optional "tax credit anticipation loan" in the amount equal to the expected 30% federal tax credit (up to a maximum of $10,000). The HELP program will make the first 12 monthly payments of the tax credit anticipation loan, and homeowners will be able to utilize the tax credit they receive to pay the remainder of the loan without any prepayment penalties.
Other special financing is available to homeowners who install a geothermal heat pump system as part of a comprehensive "whole house" improvement project recommended through a certified energy audit. In this case, qualifying homeowners can obtain a secured Keystone HELP Loan for up to $35,000 with rates as low as 2.875%. The secured loan portion of the HELP program is supported by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
All work financed through Keystone HELP must be completed by a certified local contractor.
"Keystone HELP is a triple winner: families can make energy efficiency improvements to their homes that save money and reduce energy use, the Commonwealth earns a secure return, and the program creates good-paying, much-needed jobs for local installers, contractors, and manufacturers," Treasurer McCord said. "Less pollution, lower costs, and more jobs -- good work on three fronts."
"We're excited to expand the financing options for geothermal available under Keystone HELP," said Peter Krajsa, Chairman and CEO of AFC First Financial Corporation, the Allentown-based energy efficiency lender that manages the program. "It provides the more than 1,600 Pennsylvania contractors that participate in Keystone HELP with a tremendous tool to help make geothermal systems more affordable for their customers."
The McCord Treasury this summer received a $441,000 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, part of which will be used to enable Treasury to continue the Keystone HELP program. The grant funding will facilitate recapitalization of Treasury's Keystone HELP portfolio by supporting a secondary market sale of the loans. Selling the current portfolio to private investors will allow Treasury to invest in additional loans.
Created in 2006 by the Pennsylvania Treasury and AFC First Financial Corporation of Allentown, Keystone HELP offers affordable energy efficiency financing options, including rebates and low-interest loans, enabling Commonwealth homeowners to purchase and install energy efficient equipment or to undertake whole-house improvements that will result in reduced energy consumption.
Keystone HELP began offering even lower rate loans in 2009, when Treasury partnered with DEP to expand the program's impact by using funds appropriated under Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Investment Act.
Keystone HELP has helped over 7,000 homeowners finance over $58 million in money-saving home improvements. Visit www.keystonehelp.com to learn more or apply for a loan.
Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord is committed to increasing the economic security and prosperity of all Pennsylvanians. Before winning the statewide elected job of State Treasurer, McCord was a successful business leader and entrepreneur. A graduate of Harvard University with an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, he is now focused on strengthening the state's economy, managing investments to get strong returns for taxpayers, and strengthening government efficiency and transparency. To learn more about Treasurer McCord's initiatives and programs, please visit the Pennsylvania Treasury at www.patreasury.org.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Treasury Department