Duke Energy settlement will fund energy efficiency financing for consumers

A new program will allow Ohio residential Duke Energy service customers to apply for interest-free loans for energy efficiency upgrades, Cincinnati.com reports. As part of Duke Energy’s $80 million settlement in an overbilling dispute, the utility has awarded a $500,000 grant to energy analytics firm EmpowerSaves and housing nonprofit Cincinnati Development for the program. Officials “hope to lend out the $500,000 to roughly 200 to 250 homeowners or landlords to each make upwards of $3,500 worth of energy improvements” including insulation and smart thermostats, according to the article. Customers will pay back the loans “over three to five years with the savings from the upgrades.” As the money is paid back, it would be loaned out again. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities

Groups work together to create and expand Akron Summit County ESID

The Development Finance Authority of Summit County (DFA), along with Summit County and Akron, Barberton and Coventry Township, teamed up to create and expand the Akron Summit County Energy Special Improvement District (ESID), according to a recent DFA newsletter. The ESID enables property owners “to finance energy efficiency improvements” such as lighting, heating and air conditioning, new windows and roofing through a special property assessment, the article reports. Energy efficiency projects “can be financed in a number of ways,” including through a Northern Ohio Public Energy Consortium (NOPEC) revolving loan fund, “DFA Jobs & Investment Bond Fund and various private lenders.” Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said the plan is to continue working “to expand the ESID to all Summit County communities within the next year.” 


Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities, Project Finance

Akron’s Energy Special Improvement District expanded to all of Summit County

Summit County Council recently voted to “expand the Akron Energy Special Improvement District [ESID] throughout the county” to offer an incentive to organizations to “make energy-efficient improvements,” Cleveland.com reports. Businesses, local governments, and nonprofits “will be eligible to fund energy-efficient lighting upgrades, roof repairs, window repairs and other energy-efficient renovations through the Property Assessed Clean Energy program,” known as PACE, according to the article. The program allows commercial property owners to finance those improvements and repay the loans through property assessments. Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said the expansion “will create economic development opportunities that are not only energy efficient but financially beneficial for our largest cities and our smallest townships.” For more, read the full article

Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities, Project Finance

ODSA program offers low-interest loans for energy efficiency improvements

The Ohio Development Services Agency’s Energy Loan Fund is accepting applications from eligible organizations seeking low-interest financing for energy efficiency improvements. The fund offers loans from $250,000 up to $2.5 million for projects to install efficiency measures that reduce energy by at least 15 percent. Those eligible to apply include small businesses, manufacturers, local governments, nonprofit organizations, school districts, colleges and universities. For program guidelines and information on the application process, click here.

Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities, Project Finance

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

Workshop outlines solar advantages and options for Wayne County farmers

Experts from The Ohio State University (OSU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) were among those who addressed a group of farmers on the concerns and advantages of using solar power systems on farms (for more on this, see Ohio farmers increasingly adopt solar energy for price stability), Farm and Dairy reports. The workshop “addressed energy efficiency, financial concerns, installation and case studies from farms that have implemented solar technologies,” according to the article. The high upfront cost of installing solar “can be overwhelming at first glance,” but the workshop outlined “tax credit and energy programs” that can defray some of the cost. Among these are the 30-percent Federal Investment Tax Credit, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)’s loan financing and grant funding of 25 percent of the system’s cost, and Solar Renewable Energy Credits that are generated “when one megawatt hour (or 1,000 kwhs) of electricity is produced.” Ashland farmer Don Kettering installed a rooftop solar system in May 2014; he received both the 30 percent tax credit and a 25 percent REAP grant. He predicts that the payoff will take close to 6 years; he also expects his annual electric bill to be “around $200 — a bill that was closer to $2,500, and even more than $5,000, during some harvest seasons.” For more, read the full article.  


Funding Opportunities, Renewable Energy, Solar

PACE funds $22.8M in commercial projects for the second quarter of 2015

In just the second quarter of 2015, PACE programs funded 33 commercial projects totaling $22.8 million across the country, and five states “passed or amended PACE enabling laws,” according to PACENation’s Commercial PACE Market Update for the period. The update notes that “PACE is set to become a major force in the U.S. energy landscape as well as a driver of local economic development and job creation for municipalities.” PACE’s long-term payback period allows for cash-flow positive projects, which “meets the needs of many building owners, developers and financers that are not satisfied by other financing options.” Additionally, PACE “has proven to be one of the most effective ways” to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements needed to meet “state and national greenhouse gas reduction targets and renewable portfolio standards,” according to the update. The funding PACE provides for these projects stimulates job creation for energy services contractors. The update ranks Ohio third in total PACE funding dollars since 2009, with $21,000,000. To read the complete update, click here and then download the report.

Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities, Project Finance, Renewable Energy

“Solarize Cincy” offers $1500 refunds to homeowners for installing solar

Standing in the Duke Energy Garden at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Mayor John Cranley and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to energy efficiency, announced a campaign dubbed “Solarize Cincy” designed to “help bring more solar power to the region,” Cincinnati.com reports. Solarize Cincy, which is primarily supported by the alliance, will offer refunds up to $1,500 to “Cincinnati homeowners who install solar panels on their homes,” according to the article. Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance CEO Andy Holzhauser said the 1.56-megawatt solar canopy installation made up of 6,400 solar panels in the zoo’s Vine Street parking lot “is a perfect example of what solar power can do, and how effective it is.” The system produces “about 20 percent of the zoo’s needed energy,” according to the article. Larry Filkin, director of the city of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability, said the Solarize Cincy refund program, in conjunction with the 30-percent federal tax credit, will make solar more affordable for homeowners. For more, read the full article

Funding Opportunities, Renewable Energy, Solar

S.B. 185 would significantly simplify PACE financing in Ohio

On June 16, 2015, Senators Seitz, Balderson and Patton introduced Senate Bill (S.B.) 185, a bill that would significantly simplify Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing in Ohio. PACE financing allows Ohio property owners to construct special energy improvements on their properties and to pay the costs of the special energy improvement projects by paying special assessments due with their property taxes.

Current Ohio law requires property owners to create or join an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID) in order to use PACE financing. S.B. 185 would significantly simplify the PACE process, allowing property owners to use PACE financing without creating or joining an ESID. Instead, property owners could simply choose to seek the approval of the township or municipal corporation in which the property is located. Under S.B. 185, property owners could still choose to create or join ESIDs, and existing districts would not be affected.

S.B. 185 would also revise Chapter 1710 of the Ohio Revised Code to separate the provisions on PACE financing from the provisions on traditional special improvement districts. Unlike H.B. 72, which was originally introduced as H.B. 676 and is currently pending in the House Public Utilities Committee, S.B. 185 would not authorize port authorities to serve as the primary local government involved in creating ESIDs and would not expand the list of projects eligible for PACE financing.

For more, read the full text of S.B 185.

Funding Opportunities, Project Finance