Energy Works and Finance Authority partner to offer green energy financing

Two local programs are working together to promote sustainability by offering low-interest loans to Franklin County businesses, non-profit organizations and local governments for green energy upgrades. Franklin County Commissioners established Energy Works in 2015 to help keep Columbus green and attract new businesses. The Commissioners plan to commit $1.5 million annually for five years for energy upgrades to aging buildings as well as other green energy projects. The Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority’s Energy Loan Fund is an economic development tool providing financing for energy efficiency improvements. The Finance Authority uses funds from Energy Works as well as its own funds to provide low-interest loans ranging from $200,000 to $6 million for projects such as PNC Plaza’s (see our March 17, 2016 blog post) and Trinity Lutheran Seminary’s energy upgrades.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance, Sustainability

Kent State investing $50 million in energy efficiency upgrades

Across all eight Kent State campuses, the university has invested “roughly $50 million so far” on energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, KentWired.com reports. The upgrades include “retrofitting lighting, replacing air handlers and installing energy efficient utility devices as well as utilizing renewable energy where possible,” according to the article. Michael Bruder, executive director of facilities planning and design, said the upgrades will pay for themselves through energy savings. “The money that we would have spent for energy that we save every year pays off a loan to do that work with the contractor. After that loan is paid off, we just continue to have those energy savings,” Bruder said. Kent State previously installed a solar system on the field house roof. For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar

Greenworks offering PACE financing for energy upgrades to Ohio businesses

Connecticut-based finance company Greenworks Lending is expanding into Ohio to offer commercial building owners Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing for energy upgrades, Cleveland.com reports. Aaron Kraus, director of market activation for Greenworks, said PACE is “very low-cost capital over a length of time that you would not be able to get in any other manner” because loans are repaid through assessments added to property taxes. Greenworks is “looking for owners of medium and small buildings who want to cut their energy bills” without having to make a down payment, according to the article. The company’s first financing project in the Greater Cleveland area is the “$82,500 energy-efficient ‘cool roof’” on the headquarters for Mammana Custom Woodworking. Bricker & Eckler served as PACE counsel for the project. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities, Project Finance

The PUCO determines it will police the prices of submetering companies

On June 21, 2017, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued a Second Entry on Rehearing in its submetering case, which states that submetering companies cannot charge residential customers more for utility services than they would be charged by their local regulated utility. This entry represents the PUCO's intention to police the prices submetering companies charge residential customers. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency

First PACE project in Sycamore Township completed

Kids First Sports Center is the first building in Sycamore Township to complete an energy-efficiency project with PACE financing, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The 108,000-square-foot youth sports facility and preschool “used PACE to finance a $650,000 energy improvement project that included the installation of rooftop solar energy panels . . . the replacement of fluorescent lighting with LED lighting and the installation of new insulation panels in the facility’s gymnasium,” according to the article. In a press release, Kids First owner Jeff Metzger said the improvements “will reduce the facility’s energy costs by 50 percent” and called PACE “a tremendous approach to improving buildings and the environment.” Bricker & Eckler served as PACE counsel for the project. The PACE program provides financing for the total cost of energy projects, and the loans are repaid through special assessments on the property’s tax bill (see our Energy SIDs & Pace Financing Resource Center).  For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance, Solar

Lender encouraging Ohio businesses to use PACE financing for energy upgrades

Connecticut-based Greenworks Lending “is making a major push into Ohio” to promote Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for business owners, Columbus Business First reports. PACE is a financing tool for clean-energy improvements in which loans are paid back through assessments to the property tax bill. This enables building owners to “start a major, long-term energy project with no upfront costs that can be repaid over years with a private capital provider,” according to the article. Ohio’s “aging building stock” makes it an attractive market for Greenworks. The company’s director of market activation and policy, Aaron Kraus, said the best candidates for the PACE program are “mid-market buildings that need extensive capital upgrades — things like new boilers, chillers, lighting or solar panels in medical offices, warehouse and retail strips.” For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance

New energy plan for OSU could include natural gas plant on campus

Part of Ohio State University (OSU)’s just-approved energy management agreement with Engie North America and Axium Infrastructure (see our April 12, 2017 blog post) could include a new natural-gas power plant on campus, Columbus Business First reports. Engie “could build a 60-megawatt facility in between Ohio Stadium and the McCracken power plant.” It would be the first power plant on campus providing electric power to the university. If the plant is built, “the combined heat and power plant would produce electricity and heating,” sending “excess energy as heat to nearby buildings.” OSU’s contract with Engie and Axium “calls for a feasibility study” on constructing such a plant. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Transmission

OSU selects partner for energy management in $1.165 billion deal

Ohio State University (OSU) trustees recently approved “a $1.165 billion deal to hand its energy systems over to a private company,” Gongwer Ohio reports. The 50-year lease of the university’s energy systems management was awarded to ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure, one of three teams that made it to the final round of bidding on the project (see our March 24, 2017 blog post). Gongwer reports that “[i]n addition to that upfront $1 billion payment, the deal includes a $150 million commitment to specific academic areas and the creation of a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center.” OSU’s annual costs will include a “$45 million fixed fee to rise with inflation, a $9.2 million starting operating fee and a variable fee tied to capital investments.” 

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance, Sustainability

Second attempt to repeal renewable energy standards passes Ohio House

After Governor John Kasich vetoed a previous bill that would have drastically weakened clean energy standards in the state (see our January 12, 2017 blog post), a second bill to repeal renewable energy mandates has passed the House, UtilityDive reports. House Bill 114 (HB 114) now goes to the Senate; some changes from the previous bill include “limiting the amount ratepayers will pay for energy efficiency profits that accrue to the utility,” according to the article. Cleveland.com reports that HB 114 “makes the renewable energy mandates voluntary goals and completely erases them from law in 2026” (see our March 23, 2017 blog post) and “dilutes the requirement that traditional electric utilities reduce peak demand by developing energy efficiency programs for their customers.” For more, read the full UtilityDive and Cleveland.com articles. 

Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy

Cincinnati, Columbus among top 30 cities for LEED certification

Two Ohio cities—Cincinnati and Columbus—have been ranked in the top 30 U.S. cities for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification “has been among the key barometers used to measure energy-efficient building practices globally since 2004,” the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. Cities receive recognition on the list according to their amount of “LEED-certified space, ranked by square footage.” LEED offers several levels of certification: Platinum is the highest level of certification and has only been awarded to 5 percent of LEED-certified properties. In 2016, two Cincinnati properties received Platinum recognition. For more, read the full article or see the complete ranking

Energy Efficiency, Environmental
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