Media: Minneapolis recruits residents in climate fight (Christian Science Monitor)

Dec 16, 2019

Excerpted from Christian Science Monitor:

It’s a chilly Tuesday evening, and Kim Havey stands before the crowd with a simple message: Minneapolis needs residents’ help ... [The] city’s efforts to transform the carbon footprints of homes may hinge on incentives that affect people’s behavior. At the meeting with residents, Mr. Havey is pleased when a number of hands go up as he asks whether people have had “home energy squad” visits. With the city’s encouragement, local utilities are offering these voluntary visits as one way to make action as easy as possible for customers. Energy-squad reports outline the savings ratepayers can reap, map a path toward better efficiency, and even provide bids from a couple of contractors.  

Still, it’s a minority of “home energy squad” participants who actually follow up by installing new insulation or an efficient furnace. When consumers do make investments, comfort and cost savings drive the discussion more than climate change, says Chris Duffrin, president of the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a nonprofit that partners with local utilities to provide the home energy squad assessments ... To incentivize action, Minneapolis is aiming to become the first major city to call on utilities to offer energy loans tied to a dwelling’s utility bill, rather than being tied to an individual borrower. That way consumers don’t feel they have to sacrifice upfront for a payback that will only materialize if they remain in the house for several years. Instead, the finance charge is offset by a lower monthly tab for power — both showing up on the same bill.

This “inclusionary financing” also means renters as well as homeowners can participate, and an occupant’s credit score won’t be an obstacle. “The leadership of the city of Minneapolis right now is constantly pushing the envelope on the ideas for how to address climate change,” Mr. Duffrin says ...

Read the full article at The Christian Science Monitor