Renewable energy and energy efficiency have an unexpected ally in Oregon
These days you’ve probably noticed a lot more solar panels around Oregon. From the roof of the state Capitol building to roofs around your neighborhood, people have been implementing innovative ways to boost their energy efficiency.
Public utilities and nonprofits are leading the charge in bringing affordable options to people and businesses around the state. But Oregonians are also finding an unexpected ally in the movement for efficiency: the bank.
At Umpqua Bank – the Oregon-based community bank — known for its friendly staff and stores that serve as community hubs and gathering places — team members have been partnering with organizations like Energy Trust of Oregon and Solar Oregon since early 2008. Umpqua’s role in these partnerships: offering low-interest, no-fee loans for energy-efficient and renewable power projects in their communities. They call it GreenStreet Lending.
Initially developed in partnership with Energy Trust of Oregon, GreenStreet is Umpqua’s answer to the rising need in their communities for energy-saving improvements. Organizations like Energy Trust and Solar Oregon provide educational resources, efficiency assessments, and improvement plans to consumers and businesses, and Umpqua provides the financing that makes these improvements accessible and affordable.
GreenStreet loans are applicable to a wide variety of projects, from home improvements like insulation and air sealing, to whole-business energy retrofits, and even auto loans for eco-friendly vehicles.
The best example of GreenStreet in action is Solar Oregon’s “Solarize” communities, in which neighborhoods band together to purchase solar electric systems in bulk. All across Oregon, communities have driven down the individual costs associated with going solar, while Umpqua has provided help with loans that make the process as simple and encouraging as possible.
To date, there have been twelve successful Solarize communities in Oregon, with four more slated for 2014. Along with the usual cast of community members and contractors, chances are Umpqua will be part of the plans.