Midwest Energy received a $2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Loan and Grant (REDLG) Program June 10, 2014, to increase energy efficiency in the homes of the cooperative’s customer-owners through its award-winning How$mart® Program.
The loan, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, was one of 24 loans and grants totaling $22.5 million announced Tuesday to support job creation efforts, business development and strengthen economic growth in rural communities in nine states.
Midwest Energy’s How$mart Program is unique in that it saves energy, is environmentally friendly, promotes business growth in small communities and saves customers money over several years. How$mart provides low-interest loans to eligible customers for energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, air sealing and new heating and cooling systems. Participating customers repay the funds through energy savings on their monthly Midwest Energy bills, typically over a term of 10 to 15 years.
“This REDLG loan enables more of our 92,000 members to participate in the How$mart Program,” stated Earnie Lehman, President and General Manager at Midwest Energy. “This loan represents an affordable way for our customer-owners to save energy, while bringing work to dozens of plumbing, heating and general contractors in our area.”
Since How$mart’s launch in 2008, Midwest Energy has invested more than $6.5 million to help 1,129 customers make improvements to their homes or businesses through the program. The average How$mart participant saves roughly $53 per month on their utility bill while reducing their carbon footprint.
The How$mart Program was recognized with a Community Service Award for Energy Efficiency in 2012 by the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, a national service organization for 930 not-for-profit rural electric cooperatives and public power districts.