Pay as you save: British coalition government floats energy plan

At the federal level, the US tends to rely on various forms of tax incentives to spur consumer demand for energy efficiency and renewable installations. States and cities have tended to be a bit more creative in providing forms of up-front cost support, such as property tax financing and loan programs. Perhaps the feds should take a look at approach the new British government floated in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech: a “pay-as-you-save” loan program.

The concept was originally proposed under the previous government, and involves loaning homeowners the money to install a variety of technologies, from insulation to solar panels. The loans would be attached to the building, and could be passed on to a new owner if the current resident decides to sell. The goal: make green building features available to everyone, not just those who can pay upfront, or secure a private loan. When combined with recently-introduced feed-in tariffs, the new government believes that homeowner will come out ahead even with the most expensive technologies.

This idea isn’t foreign to the US: non-profit PAYS has piloted “pay-as-you-save” programs in New Hampshire and Hawaii, and property tax financing, which is a version of this model, exists in states ranging from Ohio to Louisiana. I’m not sure if it’s even on the radar at the federal level though (and please let me know if I’m wrong).

Can we learn something from the Brits here in terms of national energy policy? Let us know what you think…


Image: Geograph Project at Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license