It's the first of its kind in the state -- a program aimed at getting small business owners to invest in energy upgrades, without worrying about financial risk.
"Of the businesses that take the time, take the initiative to go through and actually get an energy audit, only 40 percent of them today are able to follow through and do what they know they should do and make those improvements," said Mayor Miro Weinberger (D-Burlington).
The on-bill financing program means business owners can get up front funds to invest in projects that will make them more energy-efficient and the savings on their electricity bills would then be used to make payments on those projects.
"We are talking here about more efficient lighting, improvements in refrigeration and appliances and in some cases heating or air conditioning equipment," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
The program is funded by a 1-million dollar grant from the federal government that's matched by Burlington Electric, which will provide additional incentives to businesses enrolled in the program.
"This is a revolving fund, so it will stay in the community year after year. It's not just a pilot that we're going to see for a couple years and then say gee, I wish we could continue that," said Vermont Public Service Commissioner Liz Miller.
Right now the on-bill financing program is limited to small businesses only, but Sanders and others say they hope to bring it to homeowners and areas outside of the Queen City in the future. "This is essentially a model program. We want it to work and we are going to build big time on this program not just in Burlington but all over the State of Vermont," Sen. Sanders said.
One-hundred fifty businesses are expected to take part in the program during the first few years and projects must meet cost-effectiveness criteria. The program is expected to roll out beginning next year.