CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The village of Croton-On-Hudson could be just the fourth municipality in Westchester to join a new sustainable energy loan program aimed at saving property owners money and increasing energy efficiency throughout the village.
After answering dozens of questions from residents, the Croton Board of Trustees unanimously passed a local law to establish the Property Assessed Clean Energy program and to make application to join the Energy Improvement Corporation (EIC) program. If the application is approved, the village would join Bedford, Ossining and Peekskill in northern Westchester as area participants.
The program allows property owners to receive low-interest rates and loans to finance energy improvements that would allow for a savings greater than the cost of the loans, officials said during the meeting.
Mayor Leo Wiegman, who also sits on the EIC board and works pro-bono to help develop the program, said roughly 11,000 property owners in northern Westchester and 150 property owners in Croton are eligible for the program.
“We know there is an audience for it,” Wiegman told those in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting. “There is no cost to doing this and I’ve spoken to some property owners privately who said they would be very happy to do this.”
EIC Treasurer Joe Del Sindaco said the three-month-old program was developed as a way to find property owners low interest loans that they could not obtain in any other way and potentially save thousands of dollars in the process.
“We think this is a very exciting opportunity and one that could have very significant benefits to residents throughout the entire state,” Del Sindaco said, adding that individual residents were not eligible for the program yet. “It’s a tremendous disappointment to the (EIC) that we cannot finance residential projects right now.”
Del Sindaco noted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “blocking this type of financing” to individual homes, but there was a bill in front of Congress to change that decision. He later stressed that the costs to the village would be "minimal" and that the energy savings had to be greater than the debt incurred from the loans.
Trustee Ann Gallelli said the program could be confusing to residents because of the wealth of different energy programs offered by the government.
“But it seems to me, based on the questions and the answers, that it should be fairly clear that this is a totally beneficial program for the village to enter into,” Gallelli said during the meeting. “In reality, all we’re doing is creating a way where the eligible property owners could take advantage of something.”