TRAVERSE CITY — Customers of Traverse City’s electrical utility are a step closer to having another option for upgrading their homes’ energy efficiency.

Traverse City Light & Power board members Tuesday approved a resolution seeking a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Rural Development’s Rural Energy Savings Program. It was one of a handful of items on their consent calendar that board members passed unanimously without comment or debate.

That money, if approved, would fund TCL&P’s on-bill financing program, where its customers could borrow up to $30,000 for 10 years, as previously reported. They’d pay off the loan through an added charge on their electricity bill — hence the name — and pay a 5 percent administration fee, but no interest.

Borrowers could use the money for everything from insulation upgrades to new windows to renewable energy projects like rooftop solar, as previously reported. Those who don’t pay the loan back would face a lien on their property.

Tim Arends, the utility’s executive director, previously touted the idea as a way to curb TCL&P’s peak energy demand by helping its customers make efficiency improvements to their homes.

Arends wrote in a memo that a USDA representative noted some missing information from the board’s first motion approving a letter of intent to apply: the dollar amount. So the utility board needed to clear this up before submitting the application.

The USDA gave tentative approval to the utility’s application, as previously reported.

Karla Myers-Beman, TCL&P controller, said the USDA hasn’t given a timeline for when the utility will know for sure.

TCL&P still is hoping to get the program started soon, Myers-Beman said.

“We’re hoping next spring,” she said.


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