On-bill financing (OBF) and on-bill repayment (OBR) are methods of financing energy efficiency improvements through a customer’s utility bill. The customer receives an upfront loan to make energy efficiency or renewable energy improvements to his or her property, then repays that loan through a surcharge on his or her utility bill. With on-bill financing, the utility loans the capital and collects the payments through a surcharge. With on-bill repayment, a third-party private capital provider loans the capital, and the utility acts as a pass-through entity, collecting repayments and sending those monies back to the lender. On-bill repayment thus can act as a form of public-private partnership when designed as such, and can involve multiple private lenders willing to act through a state’s utilities to make loans to utility customers.
State regulators have a role to play in the design and execution of on-bill programs. Some State Energy Offices, such as NYSERDA, are in charge of and run on-bill programs, while others are run through investor-owned utilities (IOUs). Most state municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives are not regulated by Public Utility Commissions (PUCs), so State Energy Offices can use their convening authority to bring together stakeholders to engage them in the optimal design of on-bill programs for those types of utilities. When on-bill programs for investor-owned utilities are presided over by PUCs, State Energy Offices, where they have the authority, can intervene in those cases to present testimony on on-bill best practices.
- Environmental and Energy Study Institute’s On-Bill Financing Project
Description: Website run by EESI that has a number of resources and information about on-bill financing programs across the nation. Resources on this website include how-to guides on setting up and running and on-bill financing program, segmented by utility type, and other resources providing information on securing funding for on-bill programs, trends in program design, and federal support options.