New credit union focused exclusively on clean energy lending begins taking deposits, making loans
The nation’s first-of-its-kind, Clean Energy Credit Union announced recently that it has officially launched and is now taking savings account deposits and making clean energy loans. Having received its federal charter from the National Credit Union Administration, Clean Energy Credit Union successfully moved through a “soft launch” phase last quarter, during which its online banking services were rigorously tested. Clean Energy Credit Union is an online-only financial institution that focuses exclusively on providing loans that help people throughout the U.S. afford clean energy products and services such as solar electric systems, electric vehicles, home energy efficiency retrofits, electric-assist bicycles, and net-zero energy homes.
“People are seeking new ways to make a difference, to help our environment and to usher in a clean energy economy,” said volunteer board chair Blake Jones. “Clean Energy Credit Union helps make it easy for everyone to participate in the clean energy movement.” Added CEO Terri Mickelsen, “When you open a savings account with us, you’ll know that your deposits are federally insured and are used solely to help others afford their clean energy projects. We make those projects more affordable by offering some of the best loan terms in the market.”
To accomplish its goals, Clean Energy Credit Union will adopt a lean operational model. It will have no brick-and-mortar branches and will instead function exclusively online (both website and mobile app) and via phone. The resulting overhead savings will be passed through to credit union members. As Mickelsen explains, “Our prospective members are largely tech-savvy and comfortable with online transactions, and we believe that they’ll benefit from lower interest rates on their clean energy loans more than they would from the availability of branch offices.”
As a not-for-profit, tax-exempt cooperative, Clean Energy Credit Union is democratically owned and controlled by its members on a one-vote-per-member basis. “At one point, we explored the possibility of starting a clean energy bank. Instead, we chose to start a credit union because we wanted our top priority to be serving members and fulfilling our mission instead of maximizing financial return for bank stockholders,” said Jones.
Clean Energy Credit Union will initially offer savings accounts, clean energy CDs, clean energy vehicle loans, solar electric system loans, and green home improvement loans. Starting in 2019, it plans to offer checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and green home mortgages. Since Clean Energy Credit Union isn’t initially offering checking accounts, members can move their savings account to Clean Energy Credit Union while retaining their current checking account elsewhere. They would then be able to easily transfer funds between their accounts via free ACH transfers conducted on a computer or mobile device.
Contact: Blake Jones, Volunteer Board Chair