Since the 1970’s, VHFA has helped to address a range of challenges related to the energy efficiency, safety and comfort of single family, multifamily and manufactured housing in the State. In addition to VHFA's ongoing work in supporting energy efficiency in the housing it funds, recent initiatives include:
Weatherization Repayment Assistance Pilot (WRAP)
The Weatherization Repayment Assistance Program (WRAP) is an innovative new pilot program to help moderate-income Vermonters participate in comprehensive home energy projects. WRAP began through the collaborative vision of the Weatherization at Scale coalition of Vermont energy partners and was funded by $9 million in State appropriations. WRAP allows Vermont households to pay for qualifying weatherization projects as well as heat pumps, advanced wood heating systems and health and safety measures through a monthly charge on their utility bill that can be paid back over time.
WRAP’s on-bill payment mechanism intends to address challenges commonly encountered in weatherization, including high upfront costs and limited access to credit. WRAP will not run credit checks on customers, instead verifying a clean utility bill payment history. If a customer moves, the next occupant of the property will pay the surcharge for the time they occupy the property and experience the benefits of the measures. WRAP projects are reviewed to ensure that estimated annual savings exceed the customer’s WRAP repayment charge by at least 10%.
Both homeowners and renters can participate in the program, in single family homes and master metered multifamily buildings of up to four units. Although the program is open to Vermonters of all incomes, the majority of program funding will be targeted to households earning between 80 to 120% of the area median income.
WRAP is offered through the Program Administrators at Vermont Gas Systems (VGS), Efficiency Vermont, and Burlington Electric Department (BED). They will connect customers with approved contractors, who will perform energy audits and recommend weatherization projects to customers. The Program Administrators will confirm that the measures meet energy savings targets and will determine the incentives that the customer is eligible for. VHFA will provide capital and incentives for the remaining upfront costs of the project using state funding.
After work is completed, the WRAP charge will be added as a separate line item on the customer’s utility bill by their gas or electricity provider. So far, Green Mountain Power, Ludlow Electric, Vermont Electric Cooperative, VGS, and BED have planned to offer the program to their customers.
Vermont Public Finance Climate Collaborative
The Vermont Public Finance Climate Collaborative (PFCC) is a joint effort by the financing instrumentalities of the State of Vermont, VHFA, Vermont Economic Development Corporation (VEDA), and the Vermont Bond Bank (VBB) to create a collective home for climate financing initiatives in the state. In forming the PFCC, the members bring a combined $9 billion of financing experience to the deployment of existing and new financial resources to combat climate change.
On the federal level, the Collaborative will ensure Vermont is prepared to pursue and administer climate-focused resources quickly and efficiently. Federal proposals being considered include the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that proposes $20 billion in competitive awards by 2024, made to eligible nondepository public and nonprofit entities like the PFCC members. The PFCC is positioned to use existing organizational infrastructure and experience to ensure Vermont is prepared for these opportunities without needing to stand up a new financial or institutional entity.
Learn more about the Vermont Public Finance Climate Collaborative.
Other past VHFA energy initiatives include:
- In 2018, the Agency issued its $37 million Housing for All Revenue Bonds, the proceeds of which were used to fund 34 new affordable housing developments in 23 Vermont communities containing a total of 843 new housing units. These bonds earned the State’s first Sustainability Bond designation by virtue of the investment of proceeds in housing projects that met VHFA’s Green Building Design Standards, which require higher standards of efficiency and climate-sensitive sourcing than Vermont’s basic energy standards.
- $2 million commitment for energy conservation loans to Vermont homeowners.
- Partnered with VEIC to establish Energy Rated Homes of Vermont, a rating system to help lower income and first-time home buyers avoid high energy costs.
- Housing Acquisition & Rehab Program (HARP) - Between 2009 and 2015 VHFA acquired and rehabilitated foreclosed homes for resale to low and moderate income first time homebuyers. With considerable energy investments made, the 74 homes served by this program employed over 1,600 contractors who completed extensive energy-related work on the homes, as shown below.
- Provided funding for 230 households to purchase either Energy Star or Zero Energy Modular homes through the state housing tax credit program. $6.4 million in tax credit equity has leveraged over $21.7 million in other financing serving households with an average household income of $45,000.