Program Examples of Vendor and Contractor Network Development
Here are some good examples of how loan loss reserve fund programs have developed and managed vendors and contractors.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
The Bainbridge Island Energy Challenge used a portion of its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant monies to partner with the Conservation Services Group, a national consulting firm dedicated to helping people in the United States use energy wisely. This third-party consultant has its own contractor network and handles all aspects of the selection, oversight, and completion assurance of its contractors.
The Bellingham/Whatcom County Community Energy Challenge has partnered with a local community action agency, the Opportunity Council, to house a “one-stop shop” to arrange an energy audit, apply available utility rebates, select the contractor to perform the retrofit work, and arrange the loan loss reserve-backed bank loan. The Opportunity Council assumes oversight on the project and provides an independent inspector to determine if the energy efficiency project meets standards. If the project does not do so, the Opportunity Council sends the contractor back to the job until it is completed properly, at which point the Opportunity Council signs a certificate of completion that is passed onto the bank for disbursement of funds to the contractor (see article, New program will create jobs while helping businesses, homeowners reduce utility bills).
Kitsap County, Washington
The Kitsap Green Weatherization Program uses local utilities to provide energy audits to the homeowner at no cost. Once a scope of work for a particular residential energy efficiency project is determined and agreed upon with the homeowner and the FI, the county uses its building inspectors, who have been recently certified by the Building Performance Institute to ensure that the work about to be done is in compliance with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act eligibility. Upon project completion, the inspector, who would normally sign off on compliance with local safety ordinances and standards, now signs off on the fact that the home energy efficiency retrofit has also been completed to standards. This information is shared with the local credit union, which can then issue the loan amount to the contractor.
Using a Better Buildings grant for $20 million, the City of Milwaukee is using Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Program to supply qualified contractors for its residential retrofit program, the “Me2 Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program.” The Me2 Program has Focus on Energy-selected energy auditors and retrofit contractors from its well-vetted pool of contractors. Focus on Energy directs consumers to consultants aligned with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program, who provide a computerized analysis of a home’s energy consumption, make recommendations on the most cost-effective improvements, and direct customers to a qualified energy contractor.