Ipsun Solar is proud to announce that we have partnered with the revolutionary new Clean Energy Credit Union, one of the only credit unions in the United States focused solely on helping people become involved in the clean energy movement. Clean Energy CU's loans are offered exclusively for clean energy projects and products like solar electric systems, electric cars and energy efficiency.
As a B Corporation and a member of the Amicus Solar Cooperative, Ipsun is committed to using our company as a force for good in the world, and to being a part of the solution to climate change every day. Clean Energy Credit Union has worked with the Amicus Solar Cooperative to provide their members with special deals for installing solar electric systems on their homes, which helps us to serve our customers and our mission. As the only Amicus member in the DMV region, we are proud to offer the best loan rates available for clean energy projects in the area.
Filling a need
We talked to founder Blake Jones about how Clean Energy CU got started and why. Jones, who was an engineer in the energy industry before co-founding Namaste Solar in Colorado, said he and his partners thought of the idea because they couldn’t find a regular bank with loans that worked for clean energy projects.
“We were a bunch of clean energy entrepreneurs and CEOs and we noticed there were not a lot of good loan options available, and they were more expensive than they needed to be,” he said. “We wondered, how come banks and credit unions aren’t doing this?”
Jones said he and his partners tried to get traditional banks to offer loans that worked for projects like solar and energy efficiency. “We told them we thought solar and other green home improvements are a really big up and coming market, but they just couldn’t see the potential or weren’t interested. They thought a Home Equity Line of Credit was fine for these types of projects, but we knew the loans needed to have a term to match the life of the product, like a 25-year solar product. Short term HELOCs just didn’t match what we were trying to achieve.”
So they set about creating their own. They chose a credit union rather than a typical bank because the democratic governance of a credit union appealed to their sense of equity and fairness. As a not-for-profit, tax-exempt cooperative, Clean Energy CU is democratically owned and controlled by its members on a one-vote-per-member basis.
“We chose to start a credit union because we wanted our top priority to be serving members and fulfilling our mission instead of maximizing financial return for bank stockholders,” said Jones.
“We spent a lot of volunteer hours for a lot of years and now it’s coming to fruition. It took three years to get a federal charter. We finally got it in 2017, so we’ve been operating for more than 2 years and it’s been wildly popular, offering these loans that the market needed.”
Lean and Green
In order to offer the best loan rates for its members, Clean Energy CU has a lean operational model. There are no brick-and-mortar branches. All transactions take place online, resulting in significant overhead savings that are passed on to credit union members.
But the best part is that every deposit supports a clean energy loan for someone who wants to be a part of the clean energy movement. “These are the best loan terms you can get for a solar system loan, period,” he said.
“The key is that we offer a combo loan – it’s two separate loans, one is short term for the same amount as the federal tax credit. It’s intended to float that amount so essentially you receive your tax credit up front, and then when you receive it you can pay off that portion of the loan. For the remaining 74% (for 2020) of your loan, your payments are low because it’s a longer term. Another advantage of our loans are that the collateral is the equipment, not your house, so it doesn’t encumber your home like a HELOC would. We’re the only lenders that understand the solar market; that enables us to save people money and help them invest in the movement.”
Going, and growing, strong
Jones says they’ve done over 2000 loans in the last two years. “We’re barely keeping up with loan demand and are actively trying to increase deposits so we can meet the demands for clean energy loans. We want to be able to provide mortgages, and we’re rolling out checking accounts and credit cards this summer. We’re working to become full service as fast as we can.”
You can get involved in the clean energy movement right now by becoming a member and making a federally insured deposit with Clean Energy CU. Every deposit earns interest while helping other members finance a clean energy product or service. In addition to solar electric systems, Clean Energy CU loans can be used for electric vehicles, insulation, weatherproofing, net zero energy homes, geothermal heat pumps, and electric-assist bicycles. Get involved today! Talk to our solar consultants about Clean Energy Credit Union and learn how you can get started.