On-Bill-Financing (OBF) is a tool that makes small business energy efficiency as easy as falling off a log. Under OBF an electric utility offers upgrades to its small business customers and loans to pay for the upgrades. The energy savings are used to pay back the loan, so the monthly utility bill is no higher than it was before. When the loan is paid off, the small business owner’s utility bill is permanently lower.

On a small-scale, utilities in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have offered On-Bill-Financing for more than 10 years. Now, California has just taken OBF to a new level. In 2004, CSBE and Small Business California became interveners before the California Public Utilities Commission in order to promote OBF. We’ve twice won monetary awards from the Commission for this advocacy, which led in late 2007 to a PUC order instructing the state’s utilities to begin offering OBF in 2009, so the program will be available on a large scale. CSBE aims to make OBF available everywhere possible through the nation.


United Illuminating

Size: 800 employees

Revenues: $982 million

Mission: Independently owned and operated utility that provides electricity and energy services to about 323,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Connecticut.
What separates profitable small businesses from those that are in the red? In today’s economy, it may be their electric bills.