Businesses may get loans for energy efficient upgrades

2010-06-27T19:00:00Z 2010-07-12T07:50:36Z Businesses may get loans for energy efficient upgradesBy Mary Ann Ford |

NORMAL -- Business owners in Normal could have access to a revolving loan fund to help pay for energy efficiency improvements.

The Normal City Council will consider establishing the fund at its July 6 meeting. It would be administered by The Community Development Corporation of the Bloomington-Normal Area, a subsidiary of the Economic Development Council of the Bloomington-Normal Area.

Normal Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin said the $100,000 in seed money would come from a $488,500 federal energy efficiency block grant the town received. Other money from the grant has been used for energy efficiency upgrades in public places.

"We felt it important and the Department of Energy encouraged us to get some money into private businesses," said Fruin.

Creating a revolving loan fund is one of the suggested ways to do that, noted Ken Springer of the EDC, adding principal and interest payments would go back into the fund to keep it going.

As proposed, the low-interest financing would cover up to 50 percent of the cost of an energy efficiency upgrade at a Normal business. Home-based businesses would be excluded.

The maximum loan is $15,000 and the maximum payback is five years, Fruin said. It could be used in various ways, such as windows, lighting, heating, solar or wind projects. Businesses also would be linked with other incentive programs offered through Ameren, Nicor, the state and others.

Springer expects the program to be popular if another program is any indication. Several businesses took advantage of energy pre-audits offered by students under Illinois State University professor Tom Bierma in the Department of Health Services last year, he said.

If approved by the City Council, Springer said the program would start as soon as possible after compliance papers are completed.

"Our thought is it will be a long-term program that will hopefully build over time," said Fruin.

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