Thapus family in Colorado financed solar for their home
CECU: Financing a Cleaner, Greener World
By Bill Moore
In a world where banks sometimes seem reluctant to finance residential solar or electric cars, a group of citizens committed to a cleaner, greener world for themselves and their children pooled their resources and created the first Clean Energy Credit Union. With no physical assets to weigh them down, they are offering some of the most competitive loan rates around.
Their board is made up of volunteers. They have no physical buildings. There is no big, heavy steel safe behind which is locked stacks of cash. Best of all, the only people they have to answer to are the member-owners of the business.
Meet the Clean Energy Federal Credit Union.
Blake Jones, a solar energy entrepreneur himself, is the Volunteer Chairman of the Board. He and his fellow board members saw a need for an entity to fund energy efficiency retrofits, solar system installations, and fund electric car purchases. In keeping with the spirit of the times, they agreed that the best form of organization was a member-only credit union where management is responsible, not to a tight knit group of wealthy investors, but to the members of the union, itself. Jones own company, Namasté Solar based in Colorado, is an employee-owned cooperative and certified B-Corp.
In this 30+ minute discussion he shares with EV World, how the credit union formed and what it’s mission is. To join, you need to be a member of the American Solar Energy Society, and for the moment, CECU, as its called, will pay that one-time fee for you.
In September 2017, the 501 C1 non-profit received their charter as a federally-insured organization with FDIC protection, which protects depositor funds up to $250,000. Because the credit union is “virtual,” relying on contracted services from banking software vendors, their operational overhead is minimal, which in turn allows them to offer interest rates as low as 2.89% with borrowers who have good credit scores. Loan rates are the inverse of one’s credit score.
Besides solar panels and electric cars, CECU is also going to trial loans on electric bicycles.
You can listen to our conversation in its entirety using the embedded MP3 player below or you can download the 8.4MB file to your favorite mobile device. And be sure to follow @EVisioneer on Twitter, as well as our “sister” accounts @Quikbyke and @Papio_Creek.
Originally published: 25 Jun 2018
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