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Affinity Plus FCU Leads by Example in Clean Energy Efforts

Affinity Plus, Minnesota credit unions launch CU Green, a clean-energy lending platform

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Oct. 18, 2018) – Minnesota credit unions have formally launched CU Green, a new clean energy lending platform.

CU Green was developed to make clean energy accessible to more Minnesotans through educational resources, loans and investment options.

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union collaborated with the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) to build the website at cu-green.org. The website offers clean-energy information focused on finding qualified contractors, utility incentives and below-market rate financing for installing residential solar electric generating systems.

At the CU Green launch Oct. 17,  Brian Volkmann, Affinity Plus executive vice president, said the launch “is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of work that began with a conversation about the desire for credit unions to help bring clean energy initiatives to Minnesota.

“We know financing can be a barrier for homeowners and business owners wanting to make smart decisions and investments in clean energy,” Volkmann said. “Through the CU Green partnership, Affinity Plus can play an important role in overcoming this barrier.”

‘THE FULL PICTURE’ – A WEBSITE, FINANCING AND MORE

Anyone interested in solar information may use the website to learn more about the benefits of solar power; find contractors; review incentives; and explore financing for installing residential solar electric generating systems.

“As credit unions, we always want to do what’s right for our members,” he said. “It’s more than just the introduction of a new loan program – we want to look at the full picture.” 

That full picture includes education for members and consumers. Since solar energy is such a hot topic, there’s an almost impossible amount of information and resources to research, Volkmann said. 

“The CU Green website provides understandable information in one location, with a savings calculator, financing and installation options, and resources,” he noted. 

Through CU Green, Minnesotans are eligible for solar financing if they are a credit union member, or if they become one, at any participating credit unions.

In August 2018, Affinity Plus introduced the new Home Solar Loan powered by CU Green. This product offers 100-percent financing and no down payment, and a .25 percent, below-market-rate bonus.

SOLAR BENEFITS

As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions are committed to helping consumers understand the many benefits of energy efficient home improvements, including solar systems. The benefits are numerous:

• Eco-friendly: solar panels produce no emissions

• Long life: solar panels can last 25 years or more

• Energy independence: they rely only on the sun’s energy to generate power

• More home equity: solar panel installation can increase a home’s resale value

• Payback: a system can pay for itself in as little as seven years

• Low maintenance: once installed, panels require little upkeep

 

CU GREEN BACKGROUND: A CREDIT UNION - UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PARTNERSHIP

In 2016, Affinity Plus, MnCUN and Hiway Federal Credit Union partnered with the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment Climate Smart Municipalities program with the goal of improving energy efficiency and boosting the local economy in Minnesota.

Through this program, Affinity Plus representatives traveled twice to Germany with a delegation to learn from its award-winning, climate-smart communities.

Jeremy Kalin, a former Minnesota state legislator and clean-energy financing expert, also was a major partner and contributor in this effort. The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation provided website funding. 

AFFINITY PLUS LEADING BY EXAMPLE

Participants in the CU Green clean energy lending initiative have committed to leading by example, Volkmann noted.

Affinity Plus conducted an energy audit and is implementing energy efficiency improvements in its own facilities across Minnesota. Some of these changes include:

• In upcoming new branches in Duluth and Grand Rapids, Minn., Affinity Plus is installing in-floor heat to better maintain temperatures and reduce electrical usage.

• In Duluth, Affinity Plus is incorporating a rainwater retention system and working with a landscape architect to review facilities the credit union owns.

• Lights are being upgraded to LED in remodeled office spaces and exterior signage.

• Bathrooms and breakrooms are being equipped with motion-activated lights to conserve energy.

ABOUT AFFINITY PLUS

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 195,000 members. Affinity Plus has over $2 billion in assets. Additional information is available at affinityplus.org.


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