Wednesday, May 10, 2006

New Hampshire Bank Offers Loans for Renewable Energy

From the Portsmouth Herald, news of a new public-private partnership between Ocean National Bank, the New Hampshire state government and utility companies created to offer loans for renewable energy development to small businesses:
Ocean National Bank has created a $1.5 million loan portfolio for the renewable energy and energy efficiency business loan, a project announced by Gov. John Lynch in Concord on Monday.

Danny O’Brien, president and chief executive officer of Ocean National Bank, said the loan program "is a win-win situation for New Hampshire businesses and the environment. (Businesses) can invest in the latest tools to improve efficiency of their operations, while at the same time making thoughtful choices about energy conservation that will improve the environment."

The program is being run in collaboration with the N.H. Business Resource Center. An energy audit by a utility is required as part of the application process.

Discount-rate loans of $10,000 and up will be available to companies for energy-saving projects that include energy-efficient lighting and heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems; variable frequency; renewable energy sources; and premium efficiency motors.

"We often ask what we can do locally," O’Brien said. "This program can help small businesses cut down on operating costs and help them become more competitive in the global marketplace."

Additionally, small businesses may not need cash up front because the state will pay initial costs from funds collected through a mandatory fee on utility bills. The program also involves a rebate to contractors from utility companies. This seems like a smart investment by the state and the New Hampshire business community, as small businesses that can generate much of there own power, or at least lower their consumption, will be able to hire more people and grow more rapidly. Definitely a win-win.

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