N.J. loans may nudge landlords toward energy upgrades

New Jersey landlords might qualify for low-interest loans to make energy-efficient upgrades to their buildings starting this winter.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities hopes to make $10 million available for owners of multi-unit buildings to improve insulation, replace light fixtures or drafty windows, upgrade boilers, or perform other energy-saving work.

Board president Lee Solomon said similar programs already exist for single-family residences.

“These multifamily dwellings really fall between the cracks,” Solomon said. “There are programs that cover just about every other kind of residence and many, many different types of business, but multifamily is out in the cold.”

Under the new proposal, the state would provide a certain percentage of the loan at no interest while partnering banks would provide the rest.

Solomon said the goal is to reduce upfront costs to landlords as an incentive to making improvements that will save money and energy in the long run.

The program was modeled after one that started in New York last year, said Dayle Zatlin, with the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority.

“We’ve found that one of the barriers to energy efficiency is the upfront cost,” Zatlin said. “People want to do it perhaps, but they find it to be difficult to pay for it, and so we want to reduce that barrier.”

In New York, the state and banks split loans 50-50, resulting in interest rates between 3.5 and 4 percent.

New Jersey BPU officials, who are seeking public comment on the proposal, hope to finalize it next month. Funds could become available by winter.

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