CU GREEN OVERVIEW
Minnesota’s credit unions have partnered with the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment Climate Smart Municipalities program to improve energy efficiency and boost the local economy in Minnesota.
Working with former state legislator and clean energy financing expert Jeremy Kalin, the credit unions developed a three-tiered approach: creating cu-green.org to help consumers install residential solar panels; providing PACE Financing for businesses and property owners; and implementing energy efficiency improvements in credit union branches.
WHY CREDIT UNIONS
Minnesota’s credit unions are full-service financial cooperatives owned by their members. One way their earnings come back to is through lower loan rates. Credit unions are committed to improving their communities in all kinds of ways, from increasing financial literacy to offering college scholarships and more. That combination makes Minnesota’s credit unions the perfect fit for helping people reduce their carbon footprint.
PROPERTY ASSESSED CLEAN ENERGY (PACE) FINANCING
A partnership with the St. Paul Port Authority, PACE Financing Powered by CU Green makes a minimum of $10 million in affordable financing available for Minnesota businesses and property owners. These loans are intended to upgrade energy efficiency, including onsite renewable energy technologies and solar power systems.
CU GREEN ONLINE CLEARINGHOUSE & SOLAR LOANS
This year, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation received a grant from the Carolyn Foundation to support the development and implementation of a Clean Energy Lending and Informational Clearinghouse for the 1.7 million credit union members in the state.
The Minnesota Credit Union Network, Hiway and Affinity Plus Federal Credit Unions worked cooperatively to build the website cu-green.org to provide consumers with clean energy information with a focus on finding qualified contractors, utility incentives and below-market rate financing for installing residential solar electric generating systems. These credit unions are also offering Solar Loans to help members make the investment.
IMPLEMENTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS
Credit unions are leading by example by implementing green initiatives in branches and offices.
Among other actions taken by credit unions to improve their energy footprint, the following credit unions have taken these steps:
Hiway Federal Credit Union:
- LED lights at all three facilities
- Next step: Rooftop solar
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union:
- LEDs at all new facilities
- Next steps: Retrofit LEDs, H2O and rooftop solar
First Alliance Federal Credit Union
- Energy audit
- Next step: Rooftop solar
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, financial cooperative that puts people first above profits. Members of Affinity Plus receive maximum value through competitive rates, minimal fees, and unique, member-centric products and programs. Established in 1930, Affinity Plus has 28 branches located throughout Minnesota and is owned by more than 192,000 members. Affinity Plus has over $2 billion in assets. Additional information is available at affinityplus.org or by calling (800) 322-7228.
Hiway Federal Credit Union was founded in 1931 to serve the employees of the Minnesota Highway Department. Today, Hiway serves over 73,000 members in Minnesota and around the country, registers $1.1 billion in assets and welcomes new membership from individuals and small businesses. Hiway offers its members unparalleled member service and a lifetime of savings through lower loan rates, higher savings rates and fewer and lower fees. For more information about Hiway, visit hiway.org.
The Carolyn Foundation provides funding to programs and initiatives throughout the country which work to bring about positive change. More information is available at carolynfoundation.org.
First Alliance Credit Union is the original credit union in Rochester, Minnesota, founded in 1932 by seven Rochester firefighters. Membership is open to everyone who lives, works, worships, shops or attends school in Olmsted, Winona, Wabasha, Dodge and Goodhue counties. The credit union’s mission is to place their members’ needs first by providing compassion, guidance and resources to promote their financial well-being.
Jeremy Kalin is the founding CEO and President of Eutectics®, where he has developed a national reputation as a thought leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy financing for new and emerging markets. In creating new and easier paths to finance clean energy projects, Jeremy leverages his deep and varied experience as a state lawmaker, law school graduate, finance facilitator, business owner, green building advocate and craftsman.
The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is dedicated to providing the resources for credit unions and communities to prosper and thrive. MnCUF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1969 that serves as a charitable arm of the Minnesota credit union movement. For more information, visit www.mncufoundation.org
The Minnesota Credit Union Network is the statewide trade association that works to ensure the success, growth and vitality of Minnesota credit unions. With nearly $20 billion in assets, Minnesota credit unions are local, trusted financial cooperatives that serve more than 1.7 million members at almost 400 branch locations around the state. As not-for-profit institutions, credit unions give back to the communities they serve. For more information, visit www.mncun.org.
The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment Climate Smart Municipalities pairs Minnesota municipalities with award-winning climate-smart communities in Germany to accelerate progress toward a cleaner and more efficient energy footprint. Selected municipalities send representatives to Germany to learn about innovative programs and practices, then share their progress and insights in Minnesota. They also have the benefit of working with their twin community while a delegation of municipalities and leaders visits Minnesota each fall. In April 2016, five communities — Duluth, Elk River, Morris, Rochester and Warren — were chosen to participate in the program.
With press inquiries, contact Minnesota Credit Union Network Director of Communications Julia Miller by email or by phone at 651-288-5503.