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,” 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

Proposed H.B. 676 streamlines PACE financing process and creates role for port authorities

On December 2, 2014, Representative Margaret Conditt (R–Liberty Twp.) introduced H.B. 676, a bill that would change how Ohioans utilize Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE financing allows property owners to pay for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects over time via a special assessment on property taxes. Current Ohio law requires property owners to access PACE financing through a modification to the law governing special improvement districts – governmental entities formed to improve and provide services to properties. H.B. 676 would streamline the PACE process, allowing property owners to choose from one of two simplified PACE financing processes. A significant change, the bill would authorize port authorities to serve as the primary local government involved in creating PACE programs. H.B. 676 would also expand the list of projects eligible for PACE financing, harmonizing the list of authorized energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects with provisions in Ohio’s utilities laws. For more, read the full text of H.B. 676.

Funding Opportunities, Renewable Energy