Duanne Andrade provided expert testimony on Green Banks for the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee Hearing on S.283, the National Climate Bank Act.
WASHINGTON, April 27, 2021 – TheSolar and Energy Loan Fund’s (SELF) Chief Strategic and Financial Officer, Duanne Andrade, was invited to testify before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety about SELF and the benefits of the proposed “National Climate Bank Act.” Andrade was selected as one of two national green financing experts, along with Reed Hundt, Founder and CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital.
The S.283, National Climate Bank Act would create a national green bank with $100 billion to accelerate the deployment of commercially viable clean technology. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Innovative Finance Unlocks Economic, Social, and Environmental Benefits
Andrade testified that green banks have the power to unlock economic, environmental, and social benefits, especially in underserved communities. “Financial systems are overly reliant on credit scores and traditional underwriting methods leave too many people behind,” Andrade said. “They do not capture the true creditworthiness of low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities.”
SELF approves loans based on the customers’ ability to repay, rather than credit scores or equity, enabling struggling homeowners to gain access to affordable financing for home repairs like roof replacement or an energy-efficient air conditioner. SELF also helps LMI homeowners shift to rooftop solar alternatives and save money on their energy bills.
Financing Crucial Home Repairs for America’s Unsung Heroes
Andrade emphasized the human impact that Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFI) create, including personal stories of SELF clients. She noted that SELF has special lending programs for frontline workers and added, “These average working class people turned out to be our unsung heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are our teachers, our nurses and first responders, grocery store workers, and janitors.” She asked the Senators, “Shouldn’t they be able to afford healthy, safe, climate-resilient homes, especially in a developed country?”
Andrade testified that “a national climate bank would help SELF and other green banks catalyze billions of dollars of philanthropic and private investments to rebuild our communities, uplifting everyday heroes with sustainable long-term benefits.”
“The National Climate Bank Act would put people to work,” said Sen. Ed Markey. “It helps rebuild schools and homes, and communities, and it has environmental and economic justice at its core.”
Doug Coward, Founder and Executive Director of SELF, added, “SELF is honored to have our organization showcased in Congress as a national model for achieving clean energy and sustainability in underserved communities.” He added, “We are especially proud that Duanne was selected as a national expert to make this presentation on behalf of SELF and the American Green Bank Consortium.”
Track Record of Success
At the hearing, SELF was held up as a national leader in the inclusive financing space. SELF is the leading green bank in America focused on the low-to-moderate income sector, with over $17 million in loans and 74% of their lending activity going directly to help LMI communities. SELF has maintained an average default rate of less than 2% over the last three years.
SELF had exponential lending activity growth of 393% over the last three years, and yet, less than 1% of Florida LMI households market has been penetrated. The pandemic magnified the distress in underserved communities and further restricted credit markets. SELF broke its all-time (10 years) lending records in 9 out of 10 months during the 2020 pandemic as homeowners stayed at home, used more electricity, and invested in home repairs and improvements. SELF’s overall lending activity grew by 84% in calendar year 2020, and it has not slowed since.
A Seven-Fold Return on Investment
Sen. Markey noted, “The National Climate Bank helps public money go further, with $7 dollars of private capital unleashed for every $1 of public investment … That means more local projects, more local jobs, and clean energy benefits, without more financial risk.”
SELF helps contractors capture business they would otherwise walk away from because the customers do not qualify for traditional financing. This injection of equitable capital helps mom and pop contractors create more green jobs and improve the bottom line. SELF’s #1 contractor is Seacoast Air Conditioning from Fort Pierce, FL, which has completed over $1 million of projects financed by SELF.
About Solar Energy Loan Fund
The nonprofit SELF organization is a community-based lending organization committed to social, environmental, and financial justice. As a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), SELF’s mission is to rebuild and empower underserved communities by providing access to affordable and innovative financing for sustainable home improvements. SELF is the first “green” Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) in the Southeast. The loan fund has deployed $17 million in loans since 2011.
SELF finances the following types of home improvement projects:
Energy Efficiency: high-efficiency HVAC, weatherization, insulation, LED lights
Solar: solar PV panels, solar water heaters, solar attic fans, solar A/C systems
Water and Sewer: septic-to-sewer conversions, lateral line replacement, potable water hook-up, and plumbing repairs
Wind-Hazard Mitigation: roof repair or replacement, impact windows and doors, hurricane shutters
Disability Products: wheelchair ramps, walk-in-showers, accessibility
To learn more visit www.SolarEnergyLoanFund.org