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Federal Grant Programs

Wisconsin BetterBuildings initiatives

WECC, on behalf of the cities of Milwaukee, Madison, and Racine, was one of only 25 nationwide applicants to win a competitive BetterBuildings Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). As a result of this federal grant, these three Wisconsin cities will make new strides toward energy efficiency and generating green jobs in their communities.

To represent the community and state leadership at the heart of the BetterBuildings initiative, WECC has coined Milwaukee, Madison, and Racine's collective energy conservation efforts as the Wisconsin Energy Efficiency Project (We2).

About We2
We2 helps homeowners in Milwaukee and Madison, and businesses in Milwaukee, Madison, and Racine, to reduce fossil fuel emissions, lower energy use, improve buildings' energy efficiency, and grow the economy.

The project leverages Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities' statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy. This way We2 doesn't duplicate efforts, but can help advance deeper energy savings.

Unique advantages
We2 puts the latest energy-efficiency approaches into action, serving as a best practices example for the rest of the U.S. Here's why We2 matters:

  • Expanded reach: First-ever collaboration between three Wisconsin communities, utilities, labor unions, government, trade associations, and financing partners.
  • Green job growth: We2 efforts will provide much-needed jobs to three local economies.
  • Adaptability: Each We2 partner city will customize programming to best meet the unique needs of their community.
  • Personalized: Energy advocates live in the We2 communities they serve. They will go door-to-door and help their neighbors in completing home energy-efficiency improvements and learn energy-conservation tactics.

Financing more energy efficient homes and buildings
With DOE-backed funding, We2 leverages local financing institutions to assist both homeowners and businesses with their energy-efficiency improvement projects. Through a competitive RFP process, Summit Credit Union was chosen as the partnering financial institution for both Me2 loans and Green Madison loans.

We2 financing goals include leveraging residential and commercial finance solutions, and creating finance models that can scale up on a sustainable basis after the grant-supported program is completed.

Key financing highlights:

  • Loan loss reserve fund: For the residential sector, a portion of the BetterBuildings funds will be used to create a loan loss reserve fund. This creates a public/private partnership. The public funds mobilize, leverage, and support Summit Credit Union to offer a specialized residential energy-efficiency loan product. The loan loss reserve fund allows Summit Credit Union to pioneer a new financial product in for both Me2 and Green Madison, including broadening access to finance by modifying loan underwriting criteria, increasing the size of unsecured energy-efficiency loans, extend loan tenors, and lower interest rates.
  • Commercial funding solutions: For the business sector, the loan loss reserve fund concept will be applied to create a Debt Service Reserve Fund. In addition, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), in which the energy savings help pay down the loan, will also be available to businesses in Milwaukee, Madison, and Racine.

Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2) is open to residents and businesses in the city of Milwaukee. It launched in November 2009, with an official kick off in February 2011. The program encourages Milwaukee residents and businesses to become "Energy Einsteins" and offers them the support, attention, and incentives to make it happen. Goals for Me2 are to make energy-efficiency improvements in 4,500 homes and 340 businesses by May 31, 2013.

Green Madison
Green Madison launched in February 2011. At its heart, is the community goal of providing energy-efficiency improvements in 4,500 homes and 109 businesses by May 31, 2013. Smarter, more energy efficienct homes and businesses are more comfortable, durable, and better for the community. Helping households with moderate incomes and small to medium-sized businesses is a key objective.

City of Racine's Program
Racine Energy Efficiency (Re2) is a federally funded program to help business owners implement energy-efficiency projects that will yield large energy savings over time. Since it's launch in April of 2011, Re2 provides the resources and expertise to help make energy-savings upgrades like new lighting, HVAC, refrigeration equipment, and more for city businesses.

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