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Commercial Financing Frequently Asked Questions

The National Energy Improvement Fund is a mission-based lender offering financing for improvements that make businesses and homes resilient, energy efficient, healthy, & comfortable. NEIF is:

  • commercial lender in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
  • A licensed, multi-state consumer lender.
  • partner for utilitiesgovernments, and small business contractors, delivering capital, finance operations, and expertise.
  • An insurance & lending company supporting the resiliency market, including the installation of resilient FORTIFIED Roofs™ and financing battery storage.
  • A mission-oriented, for-profit Benefit Corporation with third party B Corp™ certification from B Labs.

NEIF’s Commercial Energy Finance Division makes commercial financing simple, fast, and accessible through a user-friendly online portal that intakes projects and manages all aspects of the financing process.

The top five things to know about commercial project financing include:

  1. NEIF Commercial Financing is FREE to offer for NEIF-Approved contractors.
  2. Financing covers 100% of your customer’s project costs.
  3. Financing requires no money down.
  4. Rebates/incentives can be used in conjunction with business financing.
  5. NEIF automatically selects the lowest possible rates and best terms.

Learn more by accessing our NEIF Commercial Welcome Packet here.

Our primary stakeholders are listed below. If you are interested in working with NEIF, please contact us! We’d love to work with you.
End-Use Customers (i.e. Borrowers)
Eligible commercial borrowers include commercial, non-profit, and government building owners or lessees. NEIF delivers complete customer support to the borrower throughout the finance process.

Contractors and Project Developers
NEIF partners with commercial contractors by providing: equipment financing for energy upgrades, working capital for contractors, and rebate advances via Rebate Bridge. Visit the Commercial Contractor page to learn more.

Distributors and Manufacturers
NEIF partners with leading equipment distributors and manufacturers, serving as the preferred lending partner for their customers. When distributors and manufacturers partner with NEIF Commercial Energy Finance, they get paid quickly, reliably, and directly.
Click here to learn about the pillars of a Distributor/Manufacturer partnership with NEIF.
Click here to see NEIF’s current distributor and manufacturer partners.

Energy Utilities and Program Implementers
NEIF serves the preferred lending partner for energy utilities and program implementers. NEIF designs and administers finance programs customized to meet the needs of utility or implementers’ users, and contractor networks. We seamlessly integrate with demand side management programs to ensure that ratepayers have access to the capital sources they need to install energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resiliency projects.
Click here to see the utility programs NEIF currently partners with.

Green Banks, State Energy Offices, and Other Associations/Organizations
NEIF has long-standing relationships with Green Banks, State Energy Offices, and other government or community energy associations & organizations. We partner with these organizations to deliver energy efficiency financing to customers. For example, we currently administer the Efficiency Maine residential and commercial efficiency finance program, serving as the lender for the State’s program and using the State’s capital to lend. Our sister company, Harcourt Brown & Carey  has been a leading consultant in the energy industry for many years, offering program design and support to many of these organizations.

Capital Providers
NEIF Commercial Energy Finance can help capital providers deploy their capital into clean energy projects and programs. We currently partner with multiple banks, energy funds, lease companies, and private investors that seek to deploy their capital using NEIF’s Commercial Finance Portal as a mechanism for project intake and, in some cases, full origination and servicing. Contact us at commercialfinance@neifund.orgcommercialfinance@neifund.org if you are interested in growing your lending network.

NEIF provides its services through a highly qualified group of contractors. In essence, contractors act as our sales force and consider NEIF as their “outsourced finance manager.” If you are not currently a NEIF-Approved Contractor, please apply here.

NEIF works to help its contractor-partners close bigger jobs, more often. We genuinely want to see you succeed and we will support you and your customer every step of the way.

NEIF offers many resources to support contractors including the NEIF Commercial Finance Portal, free one-on-one sales and finance training, and access to various collateral such as educational materials and customer “leave-behinds.”

NEIF transforms financing from a contractor’s cumbersome afterthought to an integral part of the value proposition for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resiliency projects. We make commercial financing simple, fast, and accessible for its customers through a fully automated, user-friendly online portal that intakes projects and manages all aspects of the finance process.
The Top 5 Benefits to a contractor that routinely offers financing to its customers are:

  1. Help your cash flow! When your customers are approved for financing, NEIF can arrange to have your equipment paid for up-front, before you begin work.
  2. Take away the sticker shock. Monthly payment options help your customers make a quick decision.
  3. Close bigger projects. Increase the size and scope of projects.
  4. Close more deals when you offer financing with every job bid.
  5. Work with someone you can trust. Your association with NEIF means you are working with a Certified B Corp. NEIF meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance.

There is NO CHARGE to access the basic services of NEIF Commercial Energy Finance. NEIF-Approved Contractors can access the Commercial Finance Portal, provide an unlimited number of quotes to your customers, track the progress of financing, and receive progress payments when your customers use financing. NEIF receives compensation from the financing itself, not contractors.
NEIF does offer a special Premium Contractor service for $29.99/month per company. This enhancement gives contractors access to special tools on the Commercial Finance Portal, including:

  • Co-branding (Your Logo, Your Sale) so that you provide NEIF financing proposals under your own brand.
  • Customer pre-screen to help you qualify your leads. Check the financial stability of prospective customers and know how easy or hard it might be for your prospective customer to get financing (and, regardless of whether your customer uses financing, how hard it will be for you to get paid by your customer).
  • Customer pre-approval so that you can get a customer’s business credit pre-approved, even before you pay a visit to the customer.
  • Interest rate buydown calculator, so you can offer promotional interest rates to stimulate sales.
  • Sign up as a NEIF-Premium Contractor on the main screen of the NEIF Commercial Finance Portal.

NEIF’s Commercial Finance Portal (the Portal) makes commercial financing simple, fast, and accessible for trade allies, customers, and program sponsors through an automated, user-friendly online platform that intakes projects and manages all aspects of the finance process.
The Portal provides instant finance quotes, pipeline management, reporting, and other functionality. Create a finance proposal for your energy efficiency, renewable energy, or resiliency project in 2-minutes or less, and track your project through the financing process all the way to final funding.
Additionally, the Portal can be customized to meet the needs of any utility, implementer, or state program, through special program design such as interest rate buydowns, API integration, and co-branding.
Access the Portal at www.neifcommercial.org. Create an account on the home page and start entering projects today!

Don’t panic! Simply contact commercialfinance@neifund.org to schedule a FREE portal demo. A NEIF representative will be in touch with you shortly to put time on the calendar. Demos typically take 30-minutes-or-less, but we like to reserve 45 minutes just in case there are questions. We’ll demonstrate just how easy the Portal is to navigate from start to finish of the financing process.

Our services and lending products are available in all 50 States, as well as Puerto Rico and Canada on a case-by-case basis.

NEIF will finance all energy-related equipment (energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water-energy nexus technologies), as well as non-efficiency equipment on a case-by-case basis. Essentially, we can finance any tangible equipment (as well as building controls).

Access our basic term sheet here.

Yes. We can coordinate equipment leases, equipment finance agreements, and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to make your solar project possible. Depending on the size and nature of your project, the financing process may differ. In turn, please contact us directly at commercialfinance@neifund.org if you are interested in financing a solar project. We will send you our Renewable Energy Intake Form to get you started in the solar financing process.

Rates depend on the type of borrower we are funding (government, commercial or non-profit), borrower credit, financing terms, and project size. Rates begin as low as 2.5% for government projects and can be as low as 5% for commercial or non-profit projects. Rates range higher for shorter terms, smaller projects, and as credit quality decreases. A typical market rate for a $50,000 project with good credit and a 5 year term is approximately 7%. Generally, the rates that NEIF offers are in the single digits.
Access our basic term sheet here.

In some cases we serve as the lender, providing the funding. In other cases, we serve as a multi-channel platform to help customers partner with other financing providers.

A lease-based financing contract will be between the borrower (business owner) and the lender. Thus, monthly finance payments will be made from the borrower directly to the lender. There are cases in which NEIF acts as the lender (and collects payments) and cases when NEIF acts as a facilitator and does not collect payments, seeking out the best finance offer for a customer based on rate, term and other factors.

This differs only in the case of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) where payments are remitted on a property tax bill to the local county, who then remits payments to the lender on behalf of the borrower.

NEIF’s years of experience in energy and resiliency financing helps provide for the best possible contractor and customer experience. So yes, customers can pay for energy upgrades through cash, credit card, or a bank loan (see next question). However, similar to buying a house, the ins and outs of financing an energy project quickly become complicated when you dive in. We will ensure:

  • The process runs smoothly. Our team provides the expert sales support necessary to close deals. We’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure the finance process runs quickly, efficiently, and effectively.
  • Customers use the financing mechanism that best suits their needs. We offer a suite of finance products we call our Finance Toolkit to ensure customers end up with the tool that best suits their needs. Our years of experience specializing in clean energy finance program development and policy work mean we have an unparalleled understanding of what works in the marketplace and what it takes to get your project done. Visit our Finance Toolkit to learn more.
  • Contractors understand how to discuss financing with customers. Contractors can take advantage of resources like the Finance Sales Handbook or Finance Toolkit to learn more about how to successfully integrate financing into their sales process. Additionally, NEIF-Approved Contractors can schedule a FREE one-on-one training to review the Portal process or a more in-depth finance sales training. Our training helps contractors close more deals. Never let a customer’s lack of capital be a barrier again.

Although many commercial entities already have good relationships with their bank, bank loans often require down payments, involve putting up real estate security, and close slowly with more required documentation than NEIF financing. This may make direct bank loans sub-optimal financing instruments for most energy and resiliency projects.

NEIF Commercial Energy Finance works with financial products that are designed to align with the specific needs of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resiliency equipment installations. NEIF:

  1. Provides a streamlined financing process through the NEIF Commercial Finance Portal.  
  2. Closes faster with less paperwork.
  3. Matches or beats rates offered by many banks.
  4. Provides a selection of terms to match energy cost savings to monthly payments. 
  5. Usually does not require the personal guarantees of business owners.
  6. Typically does not require any down payments.
  7. Can be structured “off balance sheet” as Energy Service Agreements or a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).  
  8. Approves more than 90% of applications. NEIF’s multi-channel platform enables your borrowers to access capital from many vetted lenders.

No. Generally, commercial finance is based only on an evaluation of business credit. In some cases, a lender will seek a personal guarantee for a loan to a closely held business. Personal guarantees do not have any significant effect on personal credit scores, so long as the business makes financing payments on-time and fully satisfies the debt obligation.

When the project is complete, your customer (the borrower) will sign a document or confirm via a phone call to verify that the installation meets their expectations, at which point the funds will be released to you either by an ACH (Automatic Clearing House electronic funds transfer), or by mailing a check. Funding via ACH or check depends on the lending partner the project is placed with.
Note: NEIF can provide progress payments so that you receive up to 50% of the total project amount as soon as your customer signs loan documents.

When the project is complete, your customer (the borrower) will sign a document or confirm via a phone call to verify that the installation meets their expectations, at which point the funds will be released to you either by an ACH (Automatic Clearing House electronic funds transfer), or by mailing a check. Funding via ACH or check depends on the lending partner the project is placed with.
Note: NEIF can provide progress payments so that you receive up to 50% of the total project amount as soon as your customer signs loan documents.

Once you are paid, the borrower will begin receiving bills for their monthly finance payments, which they make directly to the lender.

Yes. NEIF encourages customers and contractors to use rebates/incentives in conjunction with business financing. If the rebate is assigned to the contractor, then the project can be structured so that the customer’s total financed amount is net of the rebate – it’s just a matter of clicking a box on the NEIF Commercial Finance Portal.

Additionally, NEIF encourages you to search for and identify rebates using the free UtilityGenius tool on our site here

Identifying the financing tool that works best for your project depends on many variables. Our Finance Toolkit is a great place to learn about the basics of each product, as well as the pros and cons. We offer everything from leases and loans to off balance sheet funding mechanisms such as commercial PACE and Energy Service Agreements.

If you need additional support, feel free to contact us. Our team members will help match the correct financing mechanism to your specific needs.

Yes, there is typically a one-time documentation fee for commercial equipment finance agreements. This one-time fee typically ranges from $125 – $295. For larger projects (usually $1,000,000+), additional fees and costs may apply. These will be spelled out at or before an approved and final financing offer is provided.

NEIF offers an easy ability for contractors to buy down interest rates using the NEIF-Premium Contractor service and a Interest Rate Buydown Calculator on the Portal. Just type in the target rate that you want to achieve for a given term, and the Portal tells you what it will cost to achieve that rate.

NEIF provides 100% project financing for all elements of the project including labor, sales tax, and other project costs. NEIF can finance all projects costs, net of a rebate; or, NEIF can finance the total project cost without deducting the rebate. NEIF can also pay contractors an advance on the rebate through NEIF’s RebateBridge product.

No. Down Payments are not required for NEIF financing; however, they are allowed should a customer want to reduce the amount being financed.

In most cases, there is no prepayment penalty. You can pay off commercial leases and equipment finance agreements after year 1.

However, please note that there is often little benefit to prepay on smaller loans/leases, as you generally must repay all remaining principal and interest. Larger projects may be eligible for prepayment discounts between 5-15%.

If you know you’ll want to prepay, talk to us about it early in the application process. We may be able to help you plan ahead and can even arrange a discount in some cases.

NEIF Commercial Energy Finance offers two products that are generally considered off-balance sheet:

  • Energy Services Agreements (ESAs), and
  • Commercial PACE

Both will soon be available directly through the NEIF Commercial Finance Portal. Such financing is typically best suited for projects above $500,000.

NEIF does not provide counsel on tax issues, but encourages you to talk to your tax advisor. Many energy efficiency improvements are eligible for accelerated depreciation benefits through Federal Tax Law 179 and 179D.

We’d love to answer them! Please contact NEIF Commercial Energy Finance at  (720) 724-7673 or email commercialfinance@neifund.org.