CEFC identifies $850m in potential green loans, announces Plenti as first HEUF commitment

31 May 2024

The CEFC has received proposals for investment opportunities worth more than $850 million in green loans and confirms its first investment via the $1 billion Household Energy Upgrades Fund (HEUF), a landmark program to help consumers access cheaper home energy solutions and affordable finance.

In its inaugural HEUF investment, the CEFC will work with fintech lender Plenti to provide finance to help drive down the cost of clean energy technologies for eligible customers, improving household sustainability and reducing emissions.

The $60 million CEFC commitment will support cheaper finance for solar PV, home batteries and other energy efficiency upgrades via discounts on Plenti green loans of up to 2.74 per cent annually.

In addition, eligible customers can get a further 0.6 per cent discount on the green loan if they sign up to a Virtual Power Plant through Plenti’s point-of-sale platform, GreenConnect, taking the eligible total discount available up to 3.3 per cent annually.

Consumers will be able to apply to Plenti for a green loan financed via the HEUF from 5 June 2024.

The Australian Government has allocated $1 billion to the CEFC to create the HEUF and fast- track sustainability improvements in existing housing by providing discounted consumer finance through a broad range of co-financiers.

During a three-month Request for Proposal process for HEUF capital, the CEFC received proposals from a wide range of financiers, including major banks, mutual banks, non-banks and fintech innovators. The proposals covered green mortgages, green personal loans and other innovative green finance products to improve home energy performance for homeowners, renters and strata properties.

The CEFC is continuing to work with a range of lenders to develop products with the potential to be financed through the HEUF, with further commitments expected in 2024.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “The CEFC has engaged extensively with the industry and identified strong market interest, including proposals outlining more than $850 million in potential green loans from 16 financiers. We are confident the market enthusiasm to meet growing consumer demand for green loans will result in competitive financing products that give people more control over their energy use.

“Our first HEUF investment has the potential to have a significant impact on consumer behaviour, providing choice of technologies and discounted finance through Plenti and encouraging homeowners to invest to improve their home energy performance.

“Increasing the uptake of renewable energy, storage and related infrastructure is critical to Australia’s net zero ambitions and clean energy transition. The installation of more rooftop solar, home batteries and energy efficiency equipment will help unlock additional clean energy capacity. This means we can better manage energy demand and ultimately contribute to the creation of a stronger, more reliable and cleaner grid.”

Plenti CEO Daniel Foggo said: “Consumers want lower energy bills and to reduce their household emissions but have been put off by the high upfront costs. Discounted finance will help households overcome these cost barriers, and help unlock faster uptake of energy efficiency equipment, reducing energy bills and accelerating Australia’s transition to net zero.

“We’re delighted to be the first CEFC HEUF commitment and we’re confident with our broad distribution, proven technology and experience in delivering government programs, we can help the CEFC extend the benefits of clean energy to consumers.”

CEFC Head of Consumer Finance Grace Tam said: “Many Australian homes are inefficient in terms of energy performance and thermal comfort. People who live in homes that require a lot of energy to heat and cool are vulnerable to extreme temperatures and energy price fluctuation.

“We recognise that navigating the home energy upgrade installation process can be a challenge for many households. That’s why we’re working with co-financiers such as Plenti, who offer support to customers to help them make home energy technology decisions that suit their homes and their budgets.”

The Plenti discounted HEUF green loan will be distributed through accredited and eligible equipment installers. Consumers will be able to unlock discounted green loan rates, longer loan terms as well as access and sign-up for exclusive virtual power plant (VPP) offerings via the Plenti GreenConnect platform.

For example, on a loan balance of $25,000, eligible customers could save up to $3,531 in interest over seven years, compared with the Plenti standard green loan rate.

The HEUF builds on the CEFC experience in designing and leading the green home and personal loan markets, and the uptake of clean energy technologies, through its consumer finance programs, as well as investments to help improve energy efficiency across the property sector.

Australia’s existing 11 million homes are responsible for more than 10 per cent of total emissions and more than 25 per cent of electricity consumption. Major household emissions are created by inefficient energy systems such as heating, cooling and hot water.

Modelling from RACE for 2030 that a bespoke home retrofit addressing needs identified through a whole-of-home assessment could reduce an average home energy bill by up to $1,600 per year. In addition, it found that a scheme targeting improvement of just one million existing Australian homes could reduce home energy use by up to 9,000 kWh per year per home and reduce home emissions by up to 5.8 tonnes of CO2-e per year per home.

An Australian fintech lender, Plenti has an established track record in successfully executing clean energy focused government programs, having delivered the $100 million South Australia Home Battery Scheme and the New South Wales Empowering Homes Program pilot. It also has extensive experience delivering market leading green finance to Australian households via its ~600 strong national accredited installer network.