The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) announced that it has granted a federal charter to a new credit union based in Boulder, Colorado, called Clean Energy Credit Union (CECU). CECU will serve members of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), which is also based in Boulder. Founded in 1954, ASES is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of renewable energy professionals, advocates, and enthusiasts. CECU is the first new credit union in Colorado to receive a federal charter in 31 years.
CECU’s mission is to promote clean energy, environmental stewardship, and cooperative enterprises through the web-based financial services it provides to its members. In pursuing this mission, CECU offers a unique value proposition to both borrowers and depositors throughout the United States. For borrowers, CECU will accelerate consumers’ adoption of clean energy by offering low-cost loans that are specifically tailored to clean energy products and services such as home solar electric systems and electric vehicles. For depositors, CECU makes it easy to support the growth of clean energy by directly investing in deposit accounts that are federally insured and used solely to provide loans for clean energy projects. This low-risk investment vehicle is unique in the marketplace as investors are typically exposed to greater risks when they pursue conventional clean energy investment opportunities.
Board Chair Blake Jones emphasized further, “We envision a world where everyone can participate in the clean energy movement. This new federally chartered credit union will make it easier for people to both invest in and use clean energy in order to help protect our environment and improve our economy.” Jones added, “At one point, we explored the possibility of starting a clean energy bank. Instead, we chose to start a not-for-profit financial services cooperative – i.e. a credit union – because we wanted our top priority to be serving members and fulfilling our mission instead of maximizing financial return for bank stockholders.”
“We took the decades-old and proven business model of a credit union and applied some innovative twists to it,” said CECU Chief Executive Officer Terri Mickelsen. “First, CECU will focus exclusively on providing loans that help members afford to use clean energy products and services. Second, CECU won’t have any brick-and-mortar branches and will instead operate solely via online and mobile banking applications. The reduced overhead will allow us to pass on the resulting savings to our members in the form of better interest rates and lower service fees.”
Mickelsen expects CECU to begin accepting deposits and loan applications prior to year-end 2017. In the meantime, next steps include launching a crowdfunding campaign and preparing for a membership drive. Initially, CECU will offer savings accounts, clean energy CDs, and loans for solar electric systems, clean energy vehicles, and energy efficiency home improvements. Expanded financial services offerings will be brought online following the first year of operations and are likely to include checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and a wider variety of clean energy-focused loan products.
News item from Clean Energy Credit Union