Go Green, Save Money, Save the Earth: Payback time

Kim Hornung-Marcy

September 01, 2023

  1. Savings with fully electric vehicles (EV) are real no matter what state you live in. For those who love data and stats, it is officially cheaper to own an electric vehicle in any state in the United States of America. Check out the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) deals on EV vehicles while we have them! While electricity costs vary, electricity tends to be much cheaper than gasoline. And EV maintenance costs are much lower (this translates into saved time as well as money).
  1. Leasing an EV allows you to access the $7,500 EV IRA credit no matter the cost of the vehicle, make, model or your income. This allows you to “try an EV” and see if you really like it. Most people find they are hooked once they try them. People are reporting paying as little as $20,000 for a lower-cost new EV with all the state and federal  rebates.
  1. Regional or state-level advocacy: The IRA has an up to 40% “pay back” provision that will be available to all state and local governments and non-profits sometime in 2024 for transitioning to greener forms of energy generation and use. This provision is best accessed by larger non-profits like governments or colleges and universities. Access requires careful accounting of where components for the system are manufactured and the ability to pay upfront for the green energy the entity is transitioning to. The pay back is for up to 40% of the cost of the project once it is operational. Smaller groups may be able to access financing options that have the staff and expertise to access these programs and pass the savings back to them as they transition to greener energy generation, storage or heating/cooling systems.
Does your local city, town or state still have unspent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money? Advocate for your state and local governments to leverage shovel-ready projects that reduce greenhouse gases with the ARPA money. Some projects that do not involve building might be adding back-up batteries or transitioning town vehicles or other equipment to electric battery options. 
Projects need to be completed before 2026 if ARPA money is used. But once the green energy project is fully operational you can apply for payback of up to 40% of the cost of the project.  That pay back money can then fund further green, money saving projects.      
State, county or regional planning groups tend to be on top of these kinds of programs. Contact them and ask how the ARPA money is being used and who can do the payback feature in the IRA. Then contact your state senators and house representatives to get them educated and supportive of green energy transitions that save money — especially if ARPA and IRA rebates or payback rules can be used. 
Remember, over the long term, Green energy solutions always save money over any system that burns a fuel. If you are burning anything there is the added cost of adding Greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. This speeds up the climate crisis causing massive fires, flooding, and other costly health, insurance, and infrastructure impacts. 
ARPA and IRA programs help with the transition costs. The result is a healthier environment, a slowing down of climate change, and tax savings for citizens over many years going forward.  It is important for citizens to advocate for their best interests rather than allow burned fuels to remain in use due to inertia and tradition when they could be quickly phased out.  
  1. Local Advocacy: Studies are showing that our lowest income citizens are the slowest to access weatherization, air and water source heat pumps, solar and EV technologies —and yet these programs are often free for them. Can your church form a green team that partners with your local Community Action Partnership (CAP)? CAPs are administering programs such as free weatherization and other great programs for low-income residents. Here’s how to find the CAP in your state
Maybe you simply need to partner with a local town energy committee or local environmental group. 
Jesus is honored when we advocate for our low-income brothers and sisters. Education is a service churches can offer as churches often have trusting relationships with people who come to worship or to food shelves, thrift stores, etc. Low-income people are often paying a much higher percentage of their income towards heating and cooling costs. 

These free low-income programs are life transforming: Making peoples’ homes healthier and warmer/cooler depending on the season. For low-income homeowners or renters paying for their fuel use — costs go way down when they or the property owner accesses these programs and the value of the homes rises.