Frequently Asked Questions About Sustainable Energy
- Who/what is Sustainable Energy Fund?
Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in the Lehigh Valley that assists energy users in overcoming financial, educational and regulatory barriers to a sustainable energy future. SEF does this by providing and/or facilitating commercial loans, nonprofit energy savings agreements, and power purchase agreements, and by hosting one of the premier sustainable energy conferences in the Mid-Atlantic region, Energypath.
- How was Sustainable Energy Fund formed?
Sustainable Energy Fund was formed in 1999 through a settlement during deregulation of the electric deregulation.
- I’m interested in energy efficiency or renewable energy upgrades. Can you help me get started?
While Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) does not perform energy upgrades, we do finance upgrades for commercial, governmental, nonprofit and agriculture entities. SEF does have technical expertise on staff to review and verify proposals provided by Energy Service Providers if clients have questions concerning an energy project.
- Can Sustainable Energy Fund help me with solar for my home?
Sustainable Energy Fund has a program for Lehigh Valley homeowners called Solarize Lehigh Valley. Read more about it here. We also have a list of vetted Energy Service Providers that can be found on our website here who can discuss installation and residential financing options for home solar projects.
- What projects are eligible for a commercial loan from Sustainable Energy Fund?
A project must meet at least one of the following criteria:
-Reduce energy consumption
-Generate energy from a renewable source
-Replace a “dirty” fossil fuel with a clean (or cleaner) energy source such as a combined power and heat plant (CHP)
- Who does SEF provide commercial loans to?
- What are SEF’s loan terms?
SEF can fund a project up to 5 years; however, we can provide a 20-year amortization period loan to help decrease loan payments. The client can choose to pay the balloon payment at the end of the 7 years or refinance the loan.
- What are the interest rates of a loan from Sustainable Energy Fund?
Sustainable Energy Fund offers a competitive rate as low as 4.5% for loans ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000. Interest rates vary depending on the size and term of a loan with smaller loans having a higher interest rate.
- How do I save money through the energy savings agreement?
The Energy Service Provider will guarantee the energy savings and SEF will only require a portion of the savings be used to pay for the energy conservation measures. SEF will structure the terms of the NESA based on the energy saved with the goal that the amount paid in electric bills plus the amount paid to SEF per month is less than the amount previously paid in electric bills per month prior to the project.
- I am applying for a grant, can I still participate in the Nonprofit Energy Savings Agreement?
With the Nonprofit Energy Savings Agreement, clients are contractually obligated to make payments over a pre-determined period of time. If a client is eligible for a grant but still needs help with funding from Sustainable Energy Fund, a commercial loan is a much better option as there is no prepayment penalty with our loan program.
- What if the guaranteed savings do not materialize?
So long as the unrealized savings is not due to a change in the way you are operating your building, the contractor is responsible to make the necessary changes to help you realize the guaranteed energy savings at no cost to your organization. Sustainable Energy Fund has a measurement and verification process to ensure that clients are seeing energy savings and to hold the contractors accountable.