The energy efficiency sector may face significant hurdles, but the market is quickly maturing as it addresses climate change, energy security concerns, and utility costs. Last week, I joined hundreds of colleagues from the public and private sectors, eager to accelerate investment in efficiency. We convened for the Energy Efficiency Finance Forum (E2F2), hosted by ACEEE in San Francisco. Having attended seven of the past eight years, there is no doubt that a critical shift is happening right now in the world of energy efficiency.
A significant amount of capital is poised for energy efficiency investing, especially in the US. Shifts in the policy landscape and development to enhance community resiliency could set the stage for unprecedented levels of demand for projects, both in the US and Canada. Recognizing this shift, the theme of the 2015 Forum was “a critical moment,” and the focus of the event was to address how we might seize the moment and match capital to projects. Sessions explored bringing projects to scale, developments in securitization, and the value of financing in maturing utility portfolios.
In addition to soaking up the creativity and enthusiasm at the event, I also presented as part of a panel discussion. Our session focused on new insurance and credit enhancement tools that could lower the costs of efficiency financing. Moderated by Richard Jones of HSB Insurance, my co-panelists were Chris Lohmann of Energi Insurance Services (TAF’s ESPA financing insurance provider) and Matthew Brown of Harcourt, Brown & Carey, a new colleague via collaboration with Efficiency Capital.
Optimism was in the air about the role that energy efficiency finance can play in accelerating retrofits and generating return for investors. It was pretty clear the US is surging ahead of Canada on efficiency, with over $600 million invested via property-assessed financing by Renovate America. This bodes well for similar financing programs underway in Canada such as the Home Energy Loan Program. There is no question that ACEEE’s E2 F2 is a fantastic, practical, and inspirational session – highly recommended for anyone interested in energy efficiency, finance and bringing them together to make it real.