An overcast rainy day couldn’t dampen the spirits of Matthew and Serenity Stull as they cut the ribbon on their new home on a country lane northeast of Hermiston.
The Stull family has become the first beneficiary of a program to help Umatilla Electric Cooperative members replace older manufactured homes with energy-efficient models.
A ribbon-cutting Thursday, Jan. 12 marked the first manufactured home to be replaced and occupied in a program that combines the efforts of UEC, state and federal agencies.
The Stulls have operated Parkins Garage Door Company for a dozen years. They have two children, ages 7 and 10, and are committed to raising them in the community where they both grew up. They also have a small farming operation on Columbia Lane.
To maximize energy savings, year-around comfort and healthier indoor air, the Stulls have replaced their 1984 doublewide with a Northwest Energy Efficient Manufactured Housing Certified Home, known as NEEM, purchased from Oregon Trail Homes in Hermiston.
“It’s a wonderful program and it’s worked well for us,“ Serenity Stull said. “We can continue to grow on property we own, without having to move or build a new home.“
The home is far more comfortable and healthy, compared to their old home with single-paned windows and minimal insulation and air sealing, she said. The new home keeps an even temperature and keeps out dust from nearby fields.
“Our old house had icicles dripping down the sides as the heat was leaving through the roof,” she said. “You can visually see the efficiency compared to the home we had.”
Here’s how the loan package works:
- UEC provides a low-interest primary loan to the homeowner to buy a highly efficient manufactured home and pay for a foundation and related sitework. The source of UEC’s funding is a loan from USDA’s Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP). The homeowner is obligated to repay this portion of the loan package over 20 years.
- Based on household income and other criteria, to help make the new home affordable by offsetting a significant portion of the cost, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) provides a supplemental “gap” loan that is fully forgivable if the occupant stays 10 years. This loan is at zero-interest and no payments are required.
- The state also provides a grant to fully cover the cost of removing and recycling the old home.
To qualify for UEC’s program, loan recipients must receive their electricity from UEC and occupy the home as their primary residence.
The home must be located on the recipient’s personally owned property, in a cooperatively or nonprofit-owned manufactured home park, or in a privately owned park that has a written agreement with OHCS.
The program is intended for households with an annual household income at or below 100 percent of Oregon’s average median income. The participating homeowner also agrees to take a homeowner/energy conservation course.
The older home must be certified as energy inefficient – most manufactured homes built before the mid-1990s are considered as such.
Increased insulation, tighter building envelope, better performing windows, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances and other features of a manufactured home with NEEM certification can provide up to 30 percent more energy savings than a home built to minimum code requirements.
For UEC, the intention is that energy savings from a highly efficient home will help offset part of the homeowner’s loan, said Lisa McMeen, UEC’s vice president of administration.
“We are excited to partner with state and federal agencies for the most ambitious energy saving program we have ever offered to our residential members,” McMeen said.
“We are truly grateful for the dedication of all those who helped us become among the very first electric cooperatives in the U.S. to offer this program,” she said.
Since 2019, UEC has been using the USDA’s RESP program – championed by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley – to help members finance heat pumps, windows and other energy-saving measures.
“The Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) is a crucial tool to help rural Oregonians make important energy efficiency improvements to their homes that will save them money by lowering their energy use,” said Sen. Merkley, who authored and funded the program that helps Oregon’s rural families and businesses meet the up-front costs of investing in energy efficiency projects. “The completion of this home — the very first manufactured home replacement by a rural electric cooperative in Oregon using RESP funding — is a big milestone. Congratulations to UEC and the Stull family for being trailblazers in this program in Umatilla County.”
Building on the success of that program, UEC worked with federal legislators and agencies to expand RESP to include manufactured home replacement as an energy-saving measure.
At the same time, on the statewide front, UEC collaborated with legislators and community action agencies to create manufactured home replacement legislation, signed by the governor in 2020 and now administered by Oregon Housing & Community Services and its Manufactured Home Replacement Advisory Committee.
The state’s manufactured home replacement program also works with other organizations, such as the Energy Trust of Oregon, to provide benefits to as many Oregonians as possible. In Northeast Oregon, for example, customers of Pacific Power and Cascade Natural Gas also may be eligible for the state’s gap loan through the Energy Trust.
Adds Greg Smith, who administers UEC’s Business Resource Center and its manufactured home replacement program, “It’s exciting UEC has a tool that helps homeowners enhance not only their energy efficiency but their quality of life.”
For more information on manufactured home replacement, please contact Kristin Connell at UEC’s Business Resource Center at 541 289-3000, email@example.com.