Energy-efficiency loans for New Orleans homeowners to be available at low interest


By Frank Donze, The Times-Picayune

A pool of $15 million in low-interest loans will be available to New Orleans homeowners looking to improve energy efficiency and reduce utility bills under a program announced Friday by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “I am dedicated to help make New Orleans one of America’s greenest cities,” Landrieu said during a news conference where he outlined the “NOLA Wise” initiative to provide thousands of locals with a road map for the home improvement process from start to finish.

View full sizeBryan S. Berteaux, The Times-Picayune archive
Installation of insulation under a house in Metairie was photographed in 2004.

After completing an initial home examination to determine how much energy is being wasted, program managers will give homeowners an inventory of suggested upgrades and help secure cash incentives and loans, if needed, to make the changes. Those could include caulking windows, replacing appliances and adding insulation. If an energy savings of 15 percent or more is achieved, homeowners could be eligible to add solar panels.

The program also will provide trained and certified contractors to do the work and monitor their performance.

The loans, which will be offered by Fidelity Homestead, will have an average interest rate of 5 percent to 6 percent, company officials said. In some cases, lending rates may be higher or lower depending on the amount borrowed.

Landrieu said the Fidelity Homestead loans will be backed up by $750,000 from a federal grant the city has received through the Obama administration’s stimulus package.

Another $150,000 from the same grant will go to Global Green, which will administer the program with assistance from other nonprofits and the Atlanta-based Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Beth Galante, director of Global Green’s local office, said the program will offer a one-stop shop for residents who want to make their homes more efficient.

“For your average homeowner, paying for home energy improvements has been a challenge,” she said. “Our job … is to make energy efficiency and home improvements as simple and cost-effective as possible.”

Global Green has already trained 17 contractors and 10 more are nearing the end of the specialized instruction.

In addition to the construction jobs, Landrieu said the administrative arm of the program will employ nearly two dozen full-time workers.
“So when people say that federal investments don’t create jobs,” he said, taking aim at critics of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, “this is evidence that that is wrong.”

To learn more about NOLA Wise or sign up for the program, New Orleans homeowners can call 504.523.9473, send e-mail to or visit

Frank Donze can be reached at or 504.826.3328.