News Release: Report Tackles Equity in Energy Loan Programs

Report finds that there are real financial risks for lower income households in energy efficiency loan programs. The report recommends ways to make loan programs more equitable by addressing those risks.  

REGION OF WATERLOO — Loans for deep energy retrofits are an important tool to help meet our ambitious climate targets. Without careful program design, financing programs risk harming low-income households, according to a new report from Reep Green Solutions and Kambo Energy Group.

The recommendations in this report are timely, as municipalities across Canada consider the design and launch of energy efficiency loan programs to reach their climate goals. Recently, Reep brought together a working group to design a home energy retrofit program for Waterloo Region, and the recommendations of this report will be drawn into that design to ensure the program appropriately includes and protects lower income households in the region. 

“Our climate action plan for Waterloo Region, TransformWR, calls on us to increase equity while we reduce emissions,” says Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director of Reep Green Solutions. “Households on low to moderate incomes have the most to gain from lower energy bills. Let’s make sure our programs are designed to ensure safe and equitable participation.” 

Energy poverty is the experience of being unable to afford to adequately heat or cool your home appropriately (defined as spending more than 6% of household income on energy utility bills). One in five households in Waterloo Region are experiencing energy poverty, among those with direct responsibility for paying one or more energy bills. Residents in energy poverty face tough choices of whether to ‘heat or eat’ – effectively living in thermal discomfort (not turning on the thermostat when it’s cold) or going without household essentials such as groceries to afford their energy bills. 

The report, Considerations of Equity in an Efficiency Financing Program, points out that making homes more energy efficient can lower utility bills and help to alleviate energy poverty but that offering loans to households who are already struggling financially could cause negative consequences. Drawing on the experience of community partners, the report identifies key recommendations for appropriately protecting low-to-moderate income households. 

Yasmin Abraham, co-founder of Kambo Energy Group who authored the report shares that “With strong program design we can ensure that households that are struggling the most are not put in a worse situation and can enjoy the affordability, comfort, and safety benefits of energy efficiency upgrades.” 

The report also recommends the incorporation of equity-based indicators to ensure programs are achieving their equity goals. 

Read the full report and learn about the four pillars for equitable energy efficiency loans here: https://reepgreen.ca/reports/  

 

CONTACTS
Mary Jane Patterson
Executive Director, Reep Green Solutions
[email protected] 

Lisa Truong
Energy Programs Manager, Reep Green Solutions
[email protected] 

Yasmin Abraham
Cofounder and Senior Vice President, Kambo Energy Group
[email protected] 

 

About Reep Green Solutions: 

Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity that has been helping people live sustainably for 20 years. Our programs help people reduce their environmental impact and adapt to climate change by addressing home energy efficiency, healthy yards, water conservation and waste reduction. We co-lead the climate action strategy for Waterloo Region in collaboration with Sustainable Waterloo Region.  

At Reep Green Solutions, we recognize that this decade is a crucial time for climate action. To support the global momentum, our goal is to help people take 10,000 meaningful actions by 2030 that will collectively shift our community to a resilient, low carbon future. We believe that by acting today, we can leave our children a community that is more resilient, vibrant, caring and sustainable. 

 About Kambo Energy Group: 

Kambo Energy Group is a social enterprise that designs and delivers turn-key energy solutions for Indigenous and diverse, hard-to-reach communities on behalf of utilities, governments, and other partners.  

Kambo was developed to address equity gaps in the energy efficiency market. Kambo provides recommendations and support to the industry based on our two programs: Community Power, which works alongside remote Indigenous communities to co-develop and implement custom energy and housing management solutions, and Empower Me®, a multi-award -winning program which designs and delivers equity-based energy efficiency programming to lower-income Canadians, newcomers, immigrants, and racialized Canadians. 

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