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Apr 22, 2014

Webinar taking place today will discuss bond financing for clean energy projects
 

The Washington, D.C.-based Brooking Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program is hosting a webinar on Tuesday to discuss the findings of its newly released paper on using the bond market to finance clean energy markets. On Tuesday, April 22, from 1-2:30 p.m. EDT, Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings, will host the webinar – "Clean Energy Finance Through the Bond Market: A New Option for Progress" – with special guests Toby Rittner from the Council of Development Finance Agencies, Lewis Milford from the Clean Energy Group, Jeff Pitkin from the the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Paul Toth from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. The webinar is free and open to the public. For registration information, click here.

 
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Apr 18, 2014

Renewable energy investments in the United States fall further behind China amid uncertainty in the sector
 

The nonprofit Pew Charitable Trust organization recently released a report detailing the west-east migration of capital investments in wind and solar energy, according to The Hannah Report. Asian investments are up 10 percent, which is the same amount that investments have dropped in the United States. Investments in the United States are a far second behind China. U.S. investments in wind energy in particular have "plummeted more than 90 percent in 2013," though it is still a distant second to China. The report, "Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race?" said investor interest in the sector has been dampened in the United States due to "the fulfillment of state-level portfolio standards, the lack of progress on national energy policy, and uncertainty about the direction of policies on global warming pollution," the article said. For more, read the full report.

 
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Apr 15, 2014

Ohio House unanimously passes tax credit to assist with alternative fuel conversions
 

The Ohio House of Representatives recently passed Am. H.B. 336, which would "enact tax incentives and a grant program to boost the market" for alternative fuel development, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Reps. Sean O'Brien (D-Brookfield) and David Hall (R-Millersburg) introduced the bill in November. After being referred to the Finance & Appropriations Committee, the bill unanimously passed the House 89-0. Am H.B. 336 would allocate $16 million a year for five years to the newly created Gaseous Fuel Vehicle Conversion Program, which would help governmental entities and nonprofit corporations finance vehicle conversions, and "would provide a $500 sales tax credit for the purchase of qualified electric vehicles." The nonrefundable income tax credit or commercial activity tax credit would amount to "50 percent of the price of the conversion, or the price difference between a new alternative fuel vehicle and a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle." It would be capped at $5,000 to $25,000, "depending on the vehicle weight class," the article said. For more, read the full story.

 
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Apr 03, 2014

Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson delivers sponsor testimony on his bill to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels
 

Last Friday, Ohio Senate Republicans introduced S.B. 310 to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels (See our March 28, 2014, blog post for more information). Then, on Wednesday, Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) delivered sponsor testimony on the bill before the Senate Public Utilities Committee. Sen. Balderson said that the measure would "prevent electricity bills from continuing to rise," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) came out in support of the bill, saying that he expected it to pass the House quickly "after two or three hearings."  In addition to freezing the "current level of 2.5 percent of all the kilowatt hours of electricity that utilities sold, with 0.12 percent of that coming from solar energy resources and at least half of the total coming from facilities within the state," S.B. 310 proposes to require the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to adopt rules outlining "how it will disclose the costs of the standards on customers' utility bills." It would also establish a 21-member Energy Mandates Study Committee "consisting of various interest groups affected by the requirements [who would be] tasked with conducting a cost-benefit analysis on the effects of maintaining the standards in current law versus the 2014 levels going forward," the article said.


 
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Apr 01, 2014

Energy Ohio Network to host a free event on distributed generation and CHP systems in Independence on April 9th
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently announced that the nonprofit Energy Ohio Network (EON) organization is hosting a free event in which experts will discuss "the viability, benefits and opportunity of installing distributed electricity generation and [combined heat and power] CHP systems." The event will take place on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Crown Plaza Hotel – Cleveland South in Independence, Cuyahoga County. The free event is invitation only and those interested in attending can submit their information online.


 
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Mar 24, 2014

Four Ohio cities receive $1.4 million from the U.S. EPA to improve Lake Erie's water quality
 

Officials from Cleveland, Lakewood, Lorain and Toledo recently announced that the cities are receiving more than $1.3 million total from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for "green infrastructure projects to improve Lake Erie water quality," The Plain Dealer reports. The EPA funding is being divided up as follows:

  • Lakewood is receiving $107,500 to install bioretention planters in Madison Park that will "absorb and hold rainwater, reducing the amount of water flowing into the city's sewer system."
  • Cleveland is receiving $500,000 to reconstruct the parking lot behind West Side Market "with permeable pavers that allow rainwater to seep into the ground instead of flowing into sewers."
  • Lorain is receiving $250,000 to improve storm-water management at Lakeview Park so as to "reduce the amount of bacteria in storm water being discharged to Lake Erie."
  • Toledo is receiving $500,000 to install bioswales, which "use vegetation to filter storm water, rain gardens, sand filters and vernal ponds to improve water quality at Cullen Park and along the Silver Creek watershed."
For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 18, 2014

Third Sun Solar installs a 9 kW system on an Athens County farm
 

Ohio University newspaper The Post recently profiled an Athens County farmer who had solar panels installed on his family's nearly century-old farm. Third Sun Solar of Athens installed the 9 kW system, which is "designed to produce more power in the summer" but will be able to produce enough power in all conditions – "even if covered by multiple inches of snow." This story represents an ongoing trend among farmers turning to renewable energy, particularly solar (See our Dec 9, 2013, blog post – "Solar is proving itself to be an inexpensive and unintrusive energy choice for Ohio farmers"). For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 12, 2014

New report from national mayors group urges a renewal of federal funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant
 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently released a report lauding the successful results of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program as a means to call on the federal government to renew EECBG funding, Midwest Energy News reports. Created by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and funded for five years as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the EECBG "provided $2.7 billion for energy efficiency and conservation initiatives to cities larger than 35,000 people, counties larger than 200,000 and tribal governments, along with giving money to states to distribute to municipalities." The group surveyed 204 city mayors for its report, which concluded that "local partnerships with the federal government on efficiency and renewable energy projects have plummeted" dramatically since funding ran out. The report also described in detail the savings municipalities have experienced as a result of the funding, as well as examples of the different projects undertaken. For more, read the full story and report.


 
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Mar 12, 2014

Bricker & Eckler associate Dylan Borchers will discuss PACE financing at a Green Energy Ohio workshop in Dayton on March 14th
 

The nonprofit organization Green Energy Ohio will host a business-to-business workshop on energy efficiency on Friday, March 14th at the Dayton Convention Center. "Financing Ohio Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Projects" will feature 32 experts discussing the latest methods and incentives for financing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Ohio. Bricker & Eckler associate Dylan Borchers will be presenting on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. For more, including registration information, visit the event website.


 
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Feb 02, 2014

Two investment firms launch separate $100 million funds to finance energy efficiency projects
 

The back-to-back announcements that two organizations – Joule Assets, Inc. and Kilowatt Financial – are launching separate $100 million funds for energy efficiency projects is an encouraging development for alternative energy finance, Greentech Media reports. Leading clean energy consumer finance company Kilowatt Financial's program will enable U.S. homeowners "to make energy efficient improvements to their home through 10-12 year unsecured loans of up to $30,000," The Wall Street Journal reports. Described as a "landmark transaction," the arrangement with Citi is designed to "facilitate a securitization of the pool of loans into the capital markets, and thereby help establish a secondary market and scale energy efficiency activity," the article said. In addition, power-reduction project financing company Joule Assets established the Energy Reduction Assets Fund, which will "aggregate portfolios of projects using software that identifies values and risks without having to negotiate with every individual contractor," according to Greentech Media. For more information, read this recent Bricker & Eckler publication on new vehicles for renewable energy project financing.


 
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Feb 01, 2014

U.S. House passes farm bill with Rural Energy for America Program funding intact
 

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, known as the farm bill, including provisions to fund the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Solar Industry magazine reports. REAP funding is among the credits, grants and subsidies that have contributed to a significant uptick in solar installations on farmlands in Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere, Midwestern Energy News reports (See our Dec 9, 2013, blog post – "Solar is proving itself to be an inexpensive and unintrusive energy choice for Ohio farmers"). REAP provisions "offers grants and loans to rural businesses and agricultural producers for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including solar and small wind power systems," according to Solar Industry. Michigan-based EcoJive Solar initially thought manufacturers would be their top customers, but it has instead been farmers, who have the open land and physical structures to support solar installations, as well as the inclination to think long term with regard to investing in their businesses and pursuing self-sufficiency. Senate approval is considered "a formality" and President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill. Passage of the five-year farm bill fell mostly along party lines, with Democrats voting against it because it trimmed one percent from the food stamp program. The bill earmarks $45 million in each fiscal year from 2014 through 2018 to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy through REAP. Solar Industry reports that "[a]pplications for REAP funding are to be evaluated under the three-tiered approach, representing projects costing $80,000 or less, those over $80,000 but less than $200,000, and those costing $200,000 or more," adding that the "so-called energy title also provides funding for biofuel programs."


 
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Jan 13, 2014

Integrys Energy Services to invest in residential solar as distributed energy trend takes off
 

Integrys Energy Services (IES), a subsidiary of the major utility holding company Integrys Energy Group (TEG), has become the latest traditional power company to join the "growing list of utilities and electricity providers moving into residential solar," Greentech Media reports. Industry analysts say the move "supports a growing trend toward distributed energy sources." IES will make funds available to installers through Clean Power Finance's (CFP) Market – an online business-to-business marketplace for residential solar financing that connects investors and lenders, solar professionals, and distributors and manufacturers. Though it is unknown how much the company will make available in the fund, the company has said that it plans to invest between $40 million to $50 million per year in commercial and residential solar. At this time, IES has no plans to bring the program to Ohio, although the state does have a solar renewable portfolio standard that should encourage growth in that area for the state. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 09, 2013

Solar is proving itself to be an inexpensive and unintrusive energy choice for Ohio farmers
 

With ample room and an elevated need for electricity, more and more Ohio farms are becoming home to solar energy installations that are helping farmers cut costs and achieve a degree of stability amid fluctuating energy prices, Farm & Dairy reports. Farmers are able to recover "up to 90 percent" of the cost of such a system through a combination of "a 30 percent federal tax credit, depreciation incentives, a solar renewable energy credit, grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Energy Assistance Program, and any pertinent rebates." At 50 kilowatts, one such system in Huron County produces approximately two-thirds of the farm's needs annually. This particular system is "guaranteed for 25 years" with a return on investment "projected to be three to four years," the article said. The future of funding for the USDA program is currently being debated in Congress as part of the federal farm bill (See our Oct 14, 2013, blog post for more information).

On Tuesday, December 10, the Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3) at Ohio University will host a webinar on energy options for Ohio agriculture (See our Dec 5, 2013, blog post for more information). This free, public webinar will feature experts discussing the range of options available to farmers who are interested in reducing their energy costs as well as their emissions footprints.

For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 22, 2013

SEC's proposed rules on crowdfunding could have far-reaching implications for small-scale renewable energy projects
 

The Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) recently proposed rules for crowdfunding had been eagerly anticipated ever since President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act into law in 2012, which "created an exemption under securities laws for crowdfunding," RenewableEnergyWorld.com reports. The funding model is gaining in popularity and involves financing projects by collecting small amounts of money from a large number of people as opposed to just a few major investors.

Although now under a 90-day comment period, the proposed rules as they stand have the potential to "help solve delays common in formal full-blown SEC registration and disclosure" procedures for small businesses and entrepreneurs. They could also make it easier for renewable energy companies to "raise start-up capital or additional capital because they can offer investors a return on investment."

The impact of crowdfunding will likely be less significant for wind projects since they generally feature single turbine costs that are "well over the dollar limit" for crowdfunding. The California-based company Mosaic, however, is leading the way and having notable success in crowdfunding solar energy projects. Individuals can invest as little as $25 toward financing loans for owners and developers of solar energy systems, CFO.com reports. Mosaic "generates revenue from interest on the loans, and investors pay an annual fee equal to one percent of their total investment." These investors get monthly principal-and-interest payments that are "also funded by the developers' loan repayments."

The model is gaining ground for various projects and fundraisers in Ohio, but investor crowdfunding cooled throughout the state somewhat when the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Securities garnered national media attention for opening an investigation into Social Mobile Local Lending (SoMoLend) and its CEO in August. Among other things, the organization is currently under investigation for allegedly "making fraudulent financial projections; false and misleading statements regarding current and past performance; and false and misleading statements about [the company's] relationships with banks and other institutions," Cincinnati Enquirer reports (See our Aug 21, 2013, DevelopOhio blog post for more information).


 
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Nov 13, 2013

Event in Wooster aims to educate farmers, businesses and other organizations about cost-effective alternative energy resource options
 

Ohio State University's 2013 Renewable Energy Workshop will take place on November 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. The event is designed to educate farmers, businesses and organizations about the alternative energy resources available to them, as well as "the opportunities that exist to implement cost-effective and sustainable energy-generation projects," Southern Farmer reports. The event will feature "presentations by university and industry experts as well as tours highlighting a variety of alternative energy sources, including biogas, wind, solar and biomass." Since the federal farm bill expired in September, the U.S. House and Senate have been debating different approaches to funding the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps farms and small businesses across rural America transition to renewable energy sources (See our Oct 14, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 14, 2013

Congress debates funding for the Rural Energy for America Program as part of the farm bill
 

The Associated Press recently provided an update on the debate surrounding the federal farm bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives unexpectedly defeated in June (See our June 24, 2013, blog post for more information). The farm bill expired at the end of September, and the House and Senate versions vary in their approaches to funding the decade-old Agriculture Department's Rural Energy for America Program, which is helping farms and small businesses across rural America turn to renewable energy. "The House version of the farm bill limits the program's funding to $45 million a year and designates it as 'discretionary,' meaning the program might or might not get it. The Senate version would provide $68 million annually in mandatory funds with a possible $20 million a year in discretionary money," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 10, 2013

Cincinnati entrepreneur launches Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to develop the GoSun Stove
 

Unable to secure support through some of Cincinnati's startup incubators, entrepreneur Patrick Sherwin recently "launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $40,000 by October 27" to help develop his invention, WCPO.com reports. Sherwin invented the GoSun Stove – a $279 fuel-free cooking device that only weighs four pounds and can "bake, fry and boil food using only the sun's energy." In addition to appealing to outdoor enthusiasts, the GoSun Stove can also help reduce the number of people who "die prematurely from indoor air pollution caused by open fires and leaky stoves," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 03, 2013

Dominion East Ohio's Home Performance with Energy Star program has performed 9,400 home efficiency audits since 2010
 

Since its launch in October 2010, Dominion East Ohio's Home Performance with Energy Star program has "performed 9,400 home-energy assessments throughout Northeast Ohio" through its Atlanta-based subcontractor GoodCents, The Vindicator reports. The audits cost $50, which is refunded if the recommended energy efficiency upgrades are performed. If these upgrades are completed, customers can then submit rebates to the utility of up to $1,250, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 28, 2013

OSU Extension program provides advice on renewable energy production
 

As part of its Energize Ohio program, the Ohio State University Extension is offering training and other educational resources to Ohio farms, schools and businesses that are considering installing systems to generate renewable energy, LimaOhio.com reports. A recent workshop in Findlay co-sponsored by JobsOhio featured companies that had "recently implemented distributed energy projects at their facilities," as well as representatives from the university, the Ohio Treasurer's Office, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Toledo Port Authority, One Energy LLC and Vaughn Industries. For more, read the full story and access the complete Findlay workshop.


 
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Jun 24, 2013

U.S. House of Representatives defeats 2013 farm bill
 

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives soundly defeated the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, known as the farm bill, which was expected to pass in a bipartisan vote, ABCNews.com reports. Defeat of the almost $1 trillion bill leaves the fate of the Senate's version of the farm bill uncertain, North American Windpower reports (See our June 14, 2013, blog post – "U.S. Senate passes farm bill that includes millions in funding for rural renewable energy and energy efficiency projects"). For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 14, 2013

U.S. Senate passes farm bill that includes millions in funding for rural renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
 

This week, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013. The first comprehensive farm bill since 2008, it includes funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for American Program (REAP), which "provides grants and loans to help rural businesses and agricultural procedures invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, including solar and small wind projects," North American Windpower reports. The bill's budgeted at $955 billion over 10 years, including "$68.2 million in mandatory REAP funding and $20 million in appropriated REAP funding annually for fiscal years 2014 through 2018." For more, read the full story and the full text of S. 954.


 
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May 28, 2013

The COSE Ohio Efficiency Resource Fund is a nationwide first in energy efficiency financing
 

The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) in Northeast Ohio is launching the first program in the nation that will offer funding of up to $1 million to small community and commercial enterprises for energy efficiency upgrades to be paid back as the difference in savings on each monthly bill, The Plain Dealer reports. Modeled after funding programs created by the solar industry, the Ohio Efficiency Resource Fund works with building owners through an efficiency services agreement (ESA), which says that the fund designs, installs and owns energy-saving improvements that immediately lower utility bills for the building owner. The contract is cash-flow neutral and the utility bills cannot by contract "exceed the former utility bills," so the savings are used to pay off the cost of the upgrade over a period of up to 10 years. After that, ownership transfers to the building owner. For more, read the full story.


 
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May 14, 2013

New program will make $1 million in low-interest loans available for home energy efficiency upgrades
 

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, a nonprofit economic development agency, announced last week that homeowners working to make energy efficiency upgrades as part of its Home Performance with Energy Star Program will now have financing available for their projects through the agency's new Greater Cincinnati Home Energy Loan Program, Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The agency is putting $1 million into the program's fund, which will be used to provide low-interest loans that will enable homeowners to finance their home energy efficiency projects, which at a minimum must amount to "a 15 percent reduction in their home's energy usage," the agency said on its website. For more, read the full Cincinnati Enquirer story and the full Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance story.


 
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Apr 12, 2013

Major companies use the PACE program to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
 

Through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program, commercial borrowers are "set to receive record loans this year" for solar energy installations, Bloomberg reports (See the Feb 14, 2013, blog – "The PACE program: a new approach to financing commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades"). The decision by two of the nation's largest commercial real estate owners – "Prologis, an international owner of industrial properties, and Simon Property Group, the country's largest U.S. Real Estate Investment Trust" – to use the program to fund projects ranging from rooftop solar panels to energy-saving systems has "radically changed market acceptance," Bond Buyer reports. Simon Property alone recently used $5 million in PACE financing for three energy efficiency projects in Ohio and California.

Although they vary from state to state, most PACE programs feature a municipal government that offers PACE bonds to investors who provide loans to businesses and consumers for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The government provides financing by creating an assessment district that is added to the tax roll, which the property owner then pays on a tax bill for a period of up to 30 years.

At a time when banks are becoming "less eager to provide long-term capital for renewable energy," it is estimated that more PACE loans will be made in 2013 "than in the past four years combined," and that as much as $150 million in PACE loans will be provided for projects like these, Bloomberg reports. The commercial property side of the program is drawing so much interest, Bond Buyer reports that "market watchers think in a few years enough volume could exist in California to start bundling the currently privately-placed bonds to sell in the public market." For more, read the full Bloomberg story and the full Bond Buyer story.

Bricker & Eckler LLP is Ohio's leader in PACE law. Bricker attorneys assisted in drafting Ohio's PACE law and served as bond counsel for Ohio’s first three issues of PACE bonds, including the energy efficiency bonds for the Simon Properties' project in Lake County, Ohio.


 
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Oct 23, 2012

Ohio-based Winelco Inc. receives $103,629 grant to install solar panels
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency recently awarded a $103,629 Rural Energy for American Program grant to West Chester Twp.-based Winelco Inc. to install “a 90-kilowatt photovoltaic solar power system that will generate 97,570 kilowatt hours annually,” Hamilton Journal News reports. The company, which “designs, builds and operates water and waste water systems for residential, commercial and municipal waste water/water treatment industry sectors,” expects that the new energy system will provide 100 percent of its electric needs at its Centre Park Drive facility, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 28, 2012

IRS issues guidance on QECBs
 

The IRS released a notice providing additional guidance on the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond (QECB) program that began nationwide in 2008. As part of the program, Congress has authorized $3.2 billion in QECBs for both renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at the state and local levels. QECBs provide investors with low-interest financing for projects that meet the bond program’s guidelines. The most popular form of QECBs provides the issuer of securities a federal subsidy payment up to 70 percent of the interest paid on bonds issued to finance qualifying QECB projects. In order to clarify which projects actually qualify, the IRS explained two of the main criteria under which QECB projects are financed. First, QECBs can be issued for “green community programs,” which the IRS defines as programs that promote energy efficiency and provide a general public benefit. Second, QECBs can be issued for projects that reduce energy consumption in publicly owned buildings by at least 20 percent. To provide clarity, the IRS notice explains how buildings qualify as publicly owned as well as how an issuer can measure whether the 20 percent test is satisfied. For more information on the QECB program and its relevant guidelines, read the IRS notice.


 
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May 02, 2012

Legislation aims to extend wind energy PTC by slashing oil subsidies
 

A new bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, known as Investing to Modernize the Production of American Clean Energy and Technology Act of 2012 (IMPACT Act), would end $44.8 billion in subsidies for oil companies to pay for extending the production tax credits for electricity produced from renewable sources; providing incentives for offshore wind, energy efficiency, electric, natural gas and fuel cell vehicle pumps, heavy duty natural gas vehicles and domestic clean energy manufacturing; extending the 1603 Renewable Energy Grant Program; and increasing the electric vehicle tax credit. For more, read a summary fact sheet of the bill here and the full text of the legislation here.
 
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May 02, 2012

New report details funding opportunities for local energy efficiency programs
 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a report, titled "Keeping It in the Community: Sustainable Funding for Local Energy Efficiency Initiatives," that explores a number of funding opportunities that can enable local governments to continue their energy efficiency projects even as federal funding expires. For more, read the summary here.
 
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Mar 05, 2012

Clean energy ballot proposal faces sharp criticism
 

The Ohio Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council and nine other groups signed a letter blasting a proposed $13 billion clean-energy constitutional amendment, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted also criticized the plan. Nevertheless, the article said, the “Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future” proposal got the green light from the Ohio Ballot Board to begin gathering the 385,253 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters necessary to put the issue on the Nov.?6 ballot.


 
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Feb 23, 2012

Ohio attorney general approves green energy fund ballot initiative
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved a ballot initiative submitted by the group Yes for Ohio's Energy that would "instruct the state to take on $13 billion in debt over 10 years to pay for green energy improvements and support research in the field," Columbus Business First reports. If the initiative makes it onto the ballot and is passed, then the state would issue "$1.3 billion in bonds each year from 2013 to 2023 to pay for energy infrastructure improvements and research and development of green technology, such as solar, wind and geothermal energy," the article said. For more read the full story here.

 
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Feb 21, 2012

Ohio EPA to provide $10 million toward reducing diesel emissions
 

The Ohio EPA announced that it will provide $10 million through the Ohio Diesel Emission Reduction Grant program toward the replacement, repower or retrofit of current diesel vehicles, according to a statement from Clean Fuels Ohio, a statewide nonprofit that has developed a collaborative application process in an attempt to "create a geographically diverse application representing a wide variety of projects." The state and CFO applications are open to both public and private fleets that operate at least 65 percent of the time in "eligible non-attainment counties," which are counties that are considered to have air quality below national standards.
 
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Jan 26, 2012

PACE financing gets public comment review after federal appeals court decision
 

On Jan. 26, 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) was ordered to solicit public comment on whether it should have halted Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs. The order came as a result of a ruling from the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 20, 2011. As a result of the order, the Federal Register now lists an advance notice of proposed rulemaking by FHFA on PACE.

PACE financing programs allow property owners to obtain financing for alternate energy and energy efficiency projects secured by special assessment payments levied on real property. Many PACE programs were set to begin operating when, in July 2010, the FHFA ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stop underwriting residential mortgages that included PACE assessments in July 2010. Litigation has been ongoing since that time. As a result, the recent appeals court decision is considered not only a win for property owners, but also for local governments, businesses and environmental organizations that support PACE and the economic development they feel it would bring to their communities.

As the court-mandated 60-day comment period moves forward, more than 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are working to gain bipartisan support for the PACE Assessment Protection Act (H.R. 2599). If successful, this bill would prevent FHFA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other federal mortgage organizations from blocking state and local PACE laws. Read here for more information on H.R. 2599.

For more information on PACE financing, visit Bricker & Eckler’s Energy SIDs and PACE Financing Resource Center or contact J. Caleb Bell at 614.227.2384 or jbell@bricker.com.


 
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Jan 07, 2012

Report highlights new state energy loan fund
 

An article in The Columbus Dispatch highlights the Ohio Department of Development's new Energy Loan Fund, which aims to provide low-cost financing to manufacturers, small businesses and public entities for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Additional details on the new program are available here.


 
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Dec 30, 2011

Federal tax package excludes extensions of renewable energy incentives
 

The federal tax package signed into law by President Obama last week did not include extensions of two popular renewable energy incentives: the U.S. Department of Treasury's Section 1603 cash-grant program and production tax credit ("PTC"). Extension of the Section 1603 program, set to expire at the end of 2011, was and remains unlikely. But renewable energy supporters are optimistic that lawmakers will extend the PTC, which expires at the end of 2012. News of the tax package is available here and here


 
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Dec 16, 2011

New state program seeks to finance energy efficiency
 

The Ohio Department of Development announced yesterday the launch of the Energy Loan Fund, which provides "low-cost financing to manufacturers, small businesses, public entities, and nonprofit organizations for energy-saving projects." To qualify, projects must accomplish three goals: "realize a minimum of 15 percent reduction in energy usage, achieve economic benefits, and improve environmental quality." The program will utilize federal funds as well as more than $7 million from the state's Advanced Energy Fund.

 


 
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Dec 11, 2011

Federal lawmakers push for extension of renewable energy grant, tax credit programs
 

The Hill reports that Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate are pushing the leaders of both chambers to extend the U.S. Treasury's Section 1603 renewable energy cash-grant program, set to expire at the end of this year, and the production tax credit, set to expire at the end of 2012. According to the report, "[t]he next few weeks will provide a test of Capitol Hill’s appetite for continued federal green energy support following the high-profile collapse of the solar panel manufacturing company Solyndra." 


 
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Nov 13, 2011

Report chronicles rise of federal renewable energy incentives
 

The New York Times published an article examining the dramatic increase in federal renewable energy incentives in the past several years. According to the article,  "[f]rom 2007 to 2010, federal subsidies jumped to $14.7 billion from $5.1 billion," with "[m]ost of the surge [coming] from the economic stimulus bill, which was passed in 2009 and financed an Energy Department loan guarantee program and a separate Treasury Department grant program that were promoted as important in creating green jobs." The article questions whether federal and state governments have gone too far in their support of the renewable energy industries.


 
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Oct 31, 2011

Ohio EPA to co-lead diesel emission reduction grant program
 

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will now co-lead the Ohio Diesel Emission Reduction Grant Program (pdf) in coordination with the Ohio Department of Transportation. About $20 million in federal highway funding for clean diesel projects will be available in 2012 and 2013 to replace, repower, retrofit and reduce idling in eligible public sector diesel fleets and certain private sector or nonprofit diesel fleets. These funds were included in the state budget signed into law earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich.


 
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Oct 31, 2011

USDA announces funding for biodigesters
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is funding anaerobic digester projects in eight states, including Ohio, to encourage renewable energy production, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution. In fiscal year 2011, USDA, through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), provided nearly $21 million in assistance for biodigesters, and leveraged over $110 million in project development. The Ohio projects that received funding are:

  • Mill Creek Digester, LLC (West Unity, Ohio): $600,000 loan, $499,924 grant;
  • Belmont County Bioenergy, LLC (Independence, Ohio): $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant;
  • Lime Lakes Energy, LLC (Norton, Ohio): $1.5 million loan, $500,000 grant;
  • Wooster Renewable Energy, LLC (Wooster, Ohio): $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant;
  • Ringler Energy, LLC (Cardington, Ohio): $3,238,750 loan, $500,000 grant;
  • Haviland Energy, LLC (Paulding County, Ohio): $600,000 loan, $500,000 grant. 


 
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Sep 09, 2011

US Department of Energy kicks off offshore wind development
 

The U.S. Department of Energy looks to kickstart offshore wind development through a $43 million investment in 41 projects over the next five years. According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the program is designed to "speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems." Both Freshwater Wind 1, LLC of Cleveland and Nautical Windpower LLC of Olmsted Falls received $500,000 In addition, Case Western Reserve University received $540,000 for work on offshore wind's impact on the existing grid. Read more here.


 
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Sep 09, 2011

U.S. Department of Energy kickstarts offshore wind development
 

US Department of Energy looks to kickstart offshore wind development through a $43 million investment in 41 projects over the next five years. According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the program is designed to "speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems." Both Freshwater Wind 1, LLC of Cleveland and Nautical Windpower LLC of Olmsted Falls received $500,000 In addition, Case Western Reserve University received $540,000 for work on offshore wind's impact on the existing grid. Read more here.


 
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Jul 11, 2011

DOE announces $120 million to support development of innovative manufacturing processes
 

In a Funding Opportunity Announcement just released, the U.S. Department of Energy has $120 million available to invest in innovative manufacturing processes.  The announcement is part of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership rolled out last month by President Obama.  Projects will be rated on their overall impact on manufacturing and likelihood of commercialization, with those processes deemed to be revolutionary in their design receiving preference. 
 
Letters of intent are due by August 1, 2011; applications are due August 25, 2011.
 
For more information and submission requirements, visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange.
 


 
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Jun 01, 2011

Ohio budget proposal would transfer money from Advanced Energy Fund
 

Among the latest changes to the proposed state budget percolating through the Ohio Senate is an item that would transfer money out of the Advanced Energy Fund and into another grant program. Under the proposal, each year for the next two years, the Director of Budget and Management would transfer $750,000 from the Advanced Energy Fund to the Alternative Fuels Transportation Grant Fund. Details on the Ohio Department of Development's Energy Resources Division incentive programs are available.


 
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Apr 15, 2011

Extension of popular federal cash-grant program looks doubtful
 

North American Windpower previews the coming budget battles in Congress and handicaps the odds of extensions for popular renewable energy incentive programs. The upshot: extension of the federal production tax credit, set to expire at the end of 2012, looks promising; but the prospects do not look so good for the U.S. Treasury's Section 1603 cash-grant program, set to expire at the end of 2011.


 
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Apr 14, 2011

Federal clean energy loan-guarantee program escapes budget ax
 

A U.S. Department of Energy clean energy loan-guarantee program that was on the budget chopping block will survive through September of this year, according to news reports. The Energy Department followed up news of the extension of the program with announcements about loan guarantees for two of the world's largest solar projects, both of them in California. 


 
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Apr 14, 2011

New bill in Ohio House would restore revenue to Advanced Energy Fund
 

A group of Democratic state representatives has introduced new legislation that would reinstate the monthly electric bill "rider" that provided revenue to the Ohio Department of Development's Advanced Energy Fund (AEF) and that expired at the end of 2010. The old rider charged customers of the state's four investor-owned utilities 9 cents per month. The revenue paid for grants from the AEF to support advanced energy and energy efficiency projects across the state. The fund has been closed to new applications since November 2010. 

Under House Bill 204, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland), the rider would remain in effect until 2025 and vary based on customer class: 10 cents per month for residential customers, 25 cents per month for commercial customers, and 50 cents per month for industrial customers. In the last General Assembly, before Democrats lost control of the Ohio House, Rep. Foley was the sponsor of House Bill 301, which would have extended the old rider for three years. HB 301 passed the full House, but was not taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate.


 
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Apr 05, 2011

Republicans consider "reverse auction" to spur clean energy development
 

Republicans in Congress are weighing whether to support renewable energy development through a "reverse auction" process that also encourages domestic fossil fuel production, according to an article in The New York Times. The article focuses on H.R. 909 (pdf required), a bill proposed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that, among other things, would promote oil and gas production and nuclear energy, and would cancel U.S. EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Under the bill, "[s]ome of the royalties and fees from the oil and gas production go into a trust fund. The Department of Energy then solicits offers from renewable power generators and awards the funds to those that offer the lowest price."  


 
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Mar 30, 2011

State awards $1 million to Meigs County for construction of advanced energy industrial building
 

The state awarded $1 million in loan and grant funds to Meigs County Community Improvement Corporation to build a new, 35,000-square-foot industrial building that will be marketed to advanced energy businesses spun off by Ohio University, according to an article in The (Pomeroy) Daily Sentinel. The project received $500,000 in Rural Industrial Park Loan funds and a $500,000 Rural Development Initiative grant. 


 
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Feb 21, 2011

Report: demand overwhelmed state renewable energy grant program
 

An article in The Columbus Dispatch details how demand for grants from the Ohio Department of Development's now-defunct Advanced Energy Fund (AEF) far outstripped the supply of available funds in 2010. According to the article, "the program awarded $15.6 million worth of grants for 161 solar-panel and wind-turbine projects from July to November." In total, the Department received 204 grant applications seeking $20.8 million. The funding mechanism for the AEF, a 9-cent monthly charge on the energy bills of the customers of the state's investor-owned utilities, expired on December 31, 2010, leaving the future of the fund in doubt.


 
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Jan 11, 2011

Expiration of Ohio grant program makes annual list of state-level renewable energy developments
 

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council ("IREC"), one of the parties behind the DSIRE database of state incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, has released its 2010 top-ten list of notable state incentive and rebate policies. Ohio made the list because of the expiration of the funding mechanism for the Department of Development's Advanced Energy Fund on Dec. 31. With the fund's expiration, according to IREC, "future funding opportunities for renewables [in Ohio] remain uncertain."


 
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Jan 07, 2011

Advanced energy jobs training program grants $1.3 million to six Ohio companies
 

The Ohio Department of Development ("ODOD") has approved $1.3 million in Energizing Careers Program grants for six Ohio companies to train more than 700 employees in the advanced energy manufacturing sector. Funded with federal stimulus money and administered by ODOD's Workforce and Talent Division, the $6 million program assists companies providing components for the wind, solar, and biomass industries. The program provides customized training for improving workers' skills to help Ohio companies remain competitive in advanced energy manufacturing. The companies receiving funding include:

  • Willard & Kelsey Solar Group, LLC (Wood County), which will receive $700,981 for worker training to manufacture highly efficient frameless Cadmium Telluride photovoltaic solar panels that ensure cost- effective production and installation for residential, commercial, and industrial large power-generating facilities.
  • Republic Engineered Products, Inc. (Stark County), which will receive $200,000 for worker training to manufacture high-quality electric furnace steel components and produce high-quality bottom poured ingots for the wind industry.
  • The Dow Chemical Co. (Hancock County), which will receive $162,437 for worker training to manufacture ENLIGHT Polyolefin Encapsulant Films, which can enhance efficiencies in photovoltaic solar panels and lead to lower conversion costs.

More information on the Energizing Careers Program is available here.


 
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Dec 20, 2010

Energy Department to provide R&D grants for advanced vehicles and biofuels
 

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it is accepting applications for up to $184 million over three to five years for research and development projects supporting the development and deployment of new, efficient-vehicle technologies, according to RenewableEnergyWorld.com. Eligible projects will span the full spectrum of technology approaches, including advanced materials, combustion research, hybrid electric systems, fleet efficiency, and fuels technology.

According to another article at RenewbleEnergyWorld.com, DOE also announced that it will provide up to $30 million over the next three to four years for small-scale process integration projects that support the development of advanced biofuels. 


 
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Dec 17, 2010

Federal cash-grant program extended for one year
 

A one-year extension of the U.S. Treasury's popular Section 1603 cash-grant program for renewable energy projects is included in the bipartisan tax deal that President Obama is expected to sign into law. The extension is welcome news for companies that were scrambling to complete enough work on projects to be eligible for the grant before its expiration on December 31. News of the tax deal is available herehere and here


 
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Dec 15, 2010

Report: Cash-grant extension likely to pass U.S. Senate
 

The U.S. Senate has secured the 60 votes needed to end debate on the tax bill that includes a one-year extension of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Section 1603 cash-grant program, according to the most recent report from North American Windpower. The Senate will need to take one more vote on the bill to approve final passage. The bill will then be sent to the House of Representatives, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that changes will be made to the bill to bring it to a vote, according to the report. The question then will be whether the House changes can make it through the Senate. Without an extension, the cash-grant program, which covers 30 percent of the costs of eligible renewable energy projects, will expire on December 31.   

UPDATE: The Senate has passed the tax bill by a wide margin, as reported by The New York Times.


 
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Dec 14, 2010

Ohio adds $10 million to Energy Gateway Fund
 

Courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio is moving ahead on a new $40 million fund designed to attract advanced-energy projects to the state, despite concerns among some Republicans about fees, profit splits and whether the program is on solid constitutional ground.

According to the report, Ohio will take $10 million in borrowed state funds and add it to $30 million in federal stimulus money for the Ohio Energy Gateway Fund, created by Gov. Ted Strickland. The money is designed to leverage at least $40 million in private investments, pumping $80 million into existing and emerging companies to develop advanced-energy projects in Ohio.


 
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Dec 13, 2010

State awards $10 million to projects that will transform waste to energy and other bioproducts
 

The Ohio Department of Development said that it awarded $10 million to 11 Ohio projects that will transform waste to electricity, fuel and other bioproducts. The funds were part of the $96 million in federal stimulus money allocated to Ohio through the State Energy Program. Award recipients include:

  • Comp Dairy Energy (Dorset, Ashtabula County) Comp Dairy Energy will receive $1 million to own and operate an anaerobic digester in Dorset. The diary will supply 66 wet tons per day of manure and a waste hauler will supply 66 wet tons per day of regional FOG (fats, oil and grease) to generate over 4.7 million kWh of electricity and 22,910 MMBtu of thermal heat annually.
  • Forest City Land Development, LLC (Cleveland, Cuyahoga County) Forest City Land Development, LLC will receive $1 million to construct and operate an anaerobic digester on a site that was once a General Motors Fisher Body Plant in Cleveland. A waste hauler will supply the digester with 88 wet tons per day of mixed biomass to generate more than 5 million kWh of electricity and 23,200 MMBtu of thermal heat annually.
  • Lime Lake Energy LLC (Norton, Summit County) Lime Lake Energy LLC will receive $1 million to own and operate an anaerobic digester on 200 acres of property undergoing reclamation by PPG Industries, Inc. in Norton. A waste hauler will supply 52.1 wet tons per day of mixed biomass to generate more than 3.5 million kWh of electricity and 16,800 MMBtu of thermal heat annually.
  • Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) (Grove City, Franklin County) Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) will receive $500,000 for the expansion of a gas collection system. SWACO expects to capture an additional 158,900 MMBTU per year of landfill gas from this expansion, which equates to a savings of 128,141 short tons of CO2 annually.
  • Wooster Renewable Energy, LLC (Wooster, Wayne County) Wooster Renewable Energy, LLC will receive $1 million to own and operate an anaerobic digester at the City of Wooster’s Water Pollution Control Plant. The treatment plant will supply the digester with 73 wet tons per day of biosolids, and a waste hauler will supply 60 wet tons per day of regional food waste to generate more than 5.7 million kWh of electricity and 25,230 MMBtu of thermal heat annually.

 
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Dec 13, 2010

Popular 1603 grant program may continue as part of federal tax deal
 

The federal tax deal currently in the works may include a one-year extension of the U.S. Treasury's popular Section 1603 grant program, which is set to expire on December 31. Details of the program and possible extension are available here. The most recent reports indicate that the U.S. Senate is planning to finish its work on the tax deal on Tuesday and send it to the House of Representatives. 


 
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Dec 09, 2010

Ohio House votes to extend Advanced Energy Fund
 

The Ohio House of Representatives has voted to extend the Advanced Energy Fund by three years and to raise the cap on the fund to $115 million from $100 million. The vote on House Bill 301, 52-44, was largely along partisan lines and represents what is likely one of the latest major acts of the House Democratic majority before the Republicans take control of the chamber next month. The fund is set to expire on December 31. As mentioned in a previous post, however, there is very little indication at this point that the Ohio Senate has any plans to take up HB 301 during the lame-duck session.


 
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Dec 01, 2010

U.S. Senators urge two-year extension of popular federal renewable energy grant program
 

A group of 26 U.S. senators, all but one of them Democrats, has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) urging a two-year extension of the U.S. Treasury's popular Section 1603 payment in lieu of tax credits program, according to an update from accounting and consulting firm Novogradac & Co. LLP. The letter (pdf required) says that the program, which will expire at the end of 2010 without legislative action, has created tens of thousands of jobs and encouraged the building of tens of thousands renewable energy projects. The senators cite a survey of renewable energy tax credit industry participants that anticipates a drop of 56 percent in financing for renewables in 2011 if Congress does not extend the program, according to Novogradac.


 
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Dec 01, 2010

Ohio House committee votes to extend Advanced Energy Fund
 

The Ohio House of Representatives Alternative Energy Committee voted in favor of a bill that would extend the Department of Development's Advanced Energy Fund, set to expire on December 31, by three years. The bill, an amended version of House Bill 301, would gradually reduce the value of available grants under the program, while maintaining the fee that funds the AEF at its current level, a uniform 9 cents per month on the electric bills of the state's four, investor-owned utilities (AEP, Duke, FirstEnergy and DP&L). Details on the earlier version of the bill, which would have greatly expanded the program, are available here.

The committee vote was 11-6 with all of the Democrats on the committee, chaired by Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview Heights), and two Republicans (Reps. Clyde Evans of Rio Grande and Jay Hottinger of Newark) voting "yes," and the rest of the Republicans on the committee voting "no." The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland), is expected to be taken up by the full Ohio House, but there is very little indication at this point that the state Senate is inclined to do so as well.


 
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Nov 29, 2010

Ohio House committee to consider extension of Advanced Energy Fund
 

The Ohio House of Representatives Alternative Energy Committee announced it will hold a hearing to consider a bill that would extend the Advanced Energy Fund (AEF), a popular grant program that supports development of renewable and advanced energy projects around the state. Without legislative action, the AEF will lose its funding on December 31. The bill in question -- House Bill 301, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) -- would extend the AEF until 2025 and increase the fee that funds the AEF from the current, uniform 9 cents a month on the electric bills of all customers of the state's four investor-owned utilities, to $1 per month for residential customers, $10 per month for commercial customers, and $50 per month for industrial customers.

The hearing will be held on Tues., Nov. 30, at 3:30 pm in Room 114 of the Ohio Statehouse. The bill would face an uphill battle even it clears the Alternative Energy Committee, chaired by Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview Heights). It would still have to receive the OK of the full Ohio House and Senate and outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland. But with the recent electoral shakeup, including the election of Republican John Kasich for Governor and the Republican takeover of the Ohio House, it is unclear how extensive the legislative agenda will be for the remainder of 2010.   


 
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Nov 23, 2010

Controlling Board approves additional $9 million for Advanced Energy Fund
 

The Ohio Controlling Board approved the request by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) to increase the agency's appropriation authority for the Advanced Energy Fund by $9 million. The board's decision provides new life to the fund, which provides grants to eligible advanced-energy and energy-efficiency projects. The revenue-generating mechanism for the fund, a 9-cent-a-month rider on the electric bills of the customers of the state's four investor-owned utilities, is set to expire at the end of this year. With that expiration date approaching, and with a popular federal advanced energy grant program also set to expire, applications for AEF funds have soared.

Prior to the board's decision, the AEF was oversubscribed, and the ODOD closed the application window for new grants. The Department is still not accepting new applications. But it says the increase in appropriation authority will help support the program through the end of fiscal year 2011.


 
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Nov 19, 2010

Ohio company receives $1.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant
 

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded a $1.8 million grant to Miamisburg-based WebCore Technologies LLC as a part of the agency's small-business Phase III Xlerator program, according to this article in North American Windpower. The grant will help fund the next phase of development and commercialization of Webcore's TYCOR W, a composite material that helps strengthen wind turbine blades. The patented core material has been in use for more than two years in utility-class wind turbine blades and is undergoing qualification for use with additional 1.5 MW to 3 MW turbines that have blade lengths in the 40- to 60-meter range. WebCore will use the funding to expand production capacity at its Miamisburg manufacturing facility.

WebCore also announced that it has closed a $2 million investment with a private investment group. The funding will accelerate domestic and international growth for the company. 


 
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Nov 18, 2010

Senator vows to extend federal renewable energy grant program
 

The man in charge of spearheading the U.S. tax code -- Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance -- is pledging to extend the Treasury Department's popular Section 1603 cash grant program during Congress's lame-duck session, according to a new report in North American Windpower. The program, which has been an important source of funding for the renewable energy industry during a time when the tax equity market vanished, is set to expire at the end of 2010. The Finance Committee has a full agenda for the lame-duck session, which could complicate the effort to extend the program. But Baucus had this to say in the report: "[Extending] Section 1603 is a priority, whether it gets extended in December or January and applied retroactively. . . . I'm going to find a place for it."


 
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Nov 10, 2010

State air quality authority approves funding for five Ohio projects
 

The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority approved more than $20 million in financing for five new advanced energy projects. The funding, part of the $150 million advanced energy portion of the Ohio Bipartisan Job Stimulus Bill, must receive final approval from the state controlling board when it meets on November 22. The projects authorized for funding are:

  • CODA Automotive, Inc. (Columbus, Franklin County): CODA Automotive, Inc. was authorized for a $10 million stimulus loan. It plans to produce automotive grade lithium ion cells to make 34 kWH battery packs with advanced thermal management and battery management electronics, for use in electric vehicles.
  • SCI Engineered Technologies, Inc. (Columbus, Franklin County): SCI Engineered Technologies, Inc. was authorized for a loan of $1.4 million to assist the company in expanding its capacity to manufacture high-temperature superconductivity material. SCI will use the funds to purchase machinery and equipment to meet the growing demand for its products in the creation of thin-film solar panels used by the solar energy industry.
  • Stark County Port Authority (Canton, Stark County): Stark County Port Authority was authorized for a loan of $1.5 million to assist in the establishment of the Wind Energy Research and Development Center on property owned by the college.
  • Turning Point Solar LLC (for a solar field to be located outside of Cumberland, Ohio, Muskingum and Noble counties): Turning Point Solar LLC was authorized for a loan of $7.6 million to assist in the construction of a 50 MW solar-powered electric generation station on land within 500 acres of reclaimed strip mine lands owned by American Electric Power.
  • The Ohio State University (for a project to be conducted in Belmont, Scioto, Tuscarawas and Warren counties): The Ohio State University was authorized to receive an Ohio Coal Development Office grant of $385,570 to continue its research regarding carbon sequestration in Ohio.

 
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Oct 19, 2010

Report: Expiration of Advanced Energy Fund could put brakes on advanced energy growth in Southeast Ohio
 

The expiration of Ohio's Advanced Energy Fund at the end of the year could seriously harm the upstart advanced energy industry in Southeast Ohio, according to an article in Ohio University's student newspaper The Post. The fund has financed 49 advanced energy projects in Athens County, totaling more than $800,000, according to the Ohio Department of Development's most recent figures. The fund's expiration, which will occur on December 31 without legislative action, would have the biggest impact on the region's solar industry, which includes companies such as Dovetail Solar & Wind and Third Sun Solar Power. More information on the expiration of the fund is available at the website of Ohio Advanced Energy, the trade group that is advocating for extension of the fund.


 
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Oct 12, 2010

Ohio Energy Gateway Fund accepting applications for advanced energy projects
 

The Ohio Department of Development has officially launched the Ohio Energy Gateway Fund, a $40 million program that will invest in at least twelve projects in the state related to advanced energy. After some delays, the fund, which Gov. Ted Strickland announced in his State of the State address in January, is ready to accept applications for eligible projects, as reported in The Columbus Dispatch.

The state has hired two investment managers, EnerTech Capital and Arsenal Venture Partners, to review applications and make funding decisions. The state also has hired an adviser, USA Energy Advisers, to oversee the process. For more information on the fund, visit the Department of Development's website.


 
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Oct 12, 2010

Cleveland company awarded $3 million for fuel cell development
 

Cleveland-based Technology Management, Inc. announced it received more than $3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Ohio to launch the company's 1-kilowatt fuel cells into rural, residential and military markets. TMI received about $2.5 million from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority's Advanced Energy Program to support commercialization of TMI’s compact fuel cell system. The company was awarded another $500,000 from the Energy Department.


 
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Oct 05, 2010

Columbus to provide $2 million for energy-efficient upgrades
 

 Mayor Michael Coleman has unveiled the Green Columbus Fund and the Green Switch Loan Fund—each backed by $1 million in grant-and-loan funding—to encourage businesses in the city to make energy-efficient upgrades and tackle contaminated brownfield sites.

As recently reported in Business First Columbus, the Green Columbus Fund will give grants of up to $200,000 to companies looking to acquire brownfield sites, make environmental assessments or be reimbursed for LEED certification costs with the U.S. Green Building Council. The loan fund, meanwhile, uses federal dollars to offer low-interest loans capped at the same amount for companies that take on energy efficient construction and renovation projects.

More details about the two funds can be found here.


 
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Aug 25, 2010

Offshore Wind Economic Development Act signed by N.J. governor
 

North American Windpower reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, a bipartisan measure designed to boost economic growth in the state through the development of renewable energy sources and the creation of green jobs.

The legislation will establish an offshore wind renewable energy certification program and will offer financial assistance and tax credits for businesses that construct manufacturing, assemblage and water-access facilities to support the development of qualified offshore wind projects. It also calls for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to be from offshore wind energy. This percentage would be developed to support at least 1,000 MW of generation from qualified offshore wind projects.


 
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Aug 11, 2010

Proposal deadline approaching for Ohio Department of Development’s "Transforming Waste to Value" program
 

The Ohio Department of Development is accepting proposals for funds available for its “Transforming Waste to Value” program offered through the State Energy Plan and the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The goal of the State Energy Plan is to convert municipal solid wastes, food and farm wastes and other bio-mass waste materials into electricity, heat, fuel and/or bio-products, and to create jobs.

To be considered for funding, all interested parties must complete a two-step applications process:

Submit a one-page project summary on the Recovery Ohio Web site no later than 3 p.m. on Monday, August 16, 2010. Click on the “Submit Your Proposal” link in the “How To Apply” box.

Submit a proposal to the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio Energy Resources Division no later than 3 p.m. on Monday, August 23, 2010. The application forms can be found here.

The program will “leverage private investments in projects that will move forward and be completed within 12 months of the grant execution,” according to the Web site. A total of $10 million will be awarded through the program, with a minimum award of $500,000 per project and a maximum of $1 million per project.


 
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Jun 30, 2010

PACE Webinar to be held Wednesday, July 7th
 

Ohio Senate Bill 232 (SB 232) represents a major expansion of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) renewable and advanced energy financing opportunities in Ohio. Bricker & Eckler is offering a PACE Funding and Special Improvement District Law webinar on Wednesday, July 7th from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. The program will provide a comprehensive overview of the expanded PACE financing opportunities contained in SB 232, and will discuss how property owners can create special improvement districts in order to finance PACE projects in their communities. Click here for registration details.

Visit Bricker & Eckler's Energy SIDs and PACE Financing Resource Center.


 
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Jun 28, 2010

USDA Rural Development Energy Financing
 

Today's post comes from guest author, Jim Cogan, Business & Cooperative Programs Director for USDA Rural Development.  

USDA Rural Development recently guaranteed two long term loans totaling $13 million to an Ohio grower to replace the natural gas heating system in their green houses with a biomass boiler system saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in natural gas bills. Small businesses and farmers in rural areas can take advantage of the Rural Energy for America (REAP) loan guarantees and grants offered through Rural Development. Grants can cover up to 25% of the costs for renewable energy projects or energy efficiency improvements and loan guarantees can assist lenders financing the balance of a project. REAP loan guarantees can range from $5,000 to $25 million and grants start at $1,500 to max out at $500,000. Most grants and loan guarantees have been below $50,000.

Rural Development also has a program called Business & Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantees that offers lenders a guarantee on business loans made to rural businesses. Maximum loan size is usually $10 million, but expands to $25 million in some cases. Job savings and creation is a requirement for each loan and the loan does not need to be high risk. A bank may use the B&I program simply to exceed their legal lending limit or to improve the rate of return on investment through use of a secondary market. Nearly any type of rural business qualifies. Energy projects, manufacturing facilities, nursing homes, motels, machinery and equipment are just a few examples of eligible fund usage, along with debt refinancing. There are minimum balance sheet equity requirements and all loans must be fully collateralized on a discounted basis. Most guarantees are issued at 80%, but the guarantee percentage is reduced for larger loans. There is a one-time guarantee fee due at the time the guarantee is issued plus an annual renewal fee. The resulting loan often has a longer term and a better interest rate than competing conventional loans.

For more information or questions, contact Jim Cogan, Business and Cooperative Programs Director at 614-255-2420 or jim.cogan@oh.usda.gov


 
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Jun 16, 2010

Let the Sun Shine In: Cleveland - First Suburbs Solar Project Wins $100,000 Grant
 

On June 9, The Cleveland - First Suburbs Solar Special Improvement District Pilot Program (District) was awarded an EfficientGovNow grant after voters cast nearly 17,500 votes in May. The grant-winning program, called “Let the Sun Shine In,” is intended to assist local businesses in implementing solar energy. Cleveland’s Fund for Our Economic Future, which issues the grants, called the program – the first of its kind in Ohio – “a novel effort to stimulate greater use of solar electricity.” 

The goal of “Let the Sun Shine In” is to build a financing mechanism to make solar photovoltaic and solar thermal projects more financially feasible. The program will create a solar special improvement district (SID) to facilitate solar improvement projects within its member communities, as allowed recently under House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 232. With an anticipated budget of over $5 million, the program is expected to serve about 911,000 people in the Cleveland metropolitan area. After the pilot program, the District anticipates soon adding programs for energy efficiency, wind, geothermal and biomass.

The program is a collaboration between the First Suburbs Consortium Development Council, a not-for-profit organization aimed at fostering economic and community development in Cleveland-area suburbs, and the City of Cleveland. A key goal of the City of Cleveland and First Suburbs is increasing private sector interest in development projects within its sixteen suburban member communities.

EfficientGovNow “is a competitive grant awards program that encourages and accelerates government collaboration, cooperation and efficiency by providing rounds of funding to government collaboration projects as selected by the residents of Northeast Ohio.” The Cleveland – First Suburbs solar program was one of four proposals to win the grant, which is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and overseen by the Kent State Center for Public Administration and Public Policy. The program will receive disbursements of the $100,000 grant in stages, as it reaches certain benchmarks.

Thanks to Daniel Gerken, Bricker & Eckler Summer Associate, for his contributions to this post.


 
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May 27, 2010

Newest round of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants
 

State, county and local governments and tribal entities who have not previously applied for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants have until June 25, 2010 to submit applications to the newest round of funding.

The program, modeled after existing Community Development Block Grants, allows cities and counties to apply for ARRA money to implement energy efficiency and conservation measures including, but not limited to:

  • City/County-wide energy efficiency audits 
  • Lighting retrofits 
  • Boiler and HVAC updates

Go to http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-12405.pdf or contact Greg Lestini at Bricker & Eckler LLP at glestini@bricker.com for more information.


 
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Mar 15, 2010

State clean energy funds flow to Battelle and OSU
 

Columbus Business First has a story detailing the disbursal of $773,107 in state funds for "clean coal" research and development. According to the story, Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute will receive $500,000 to develop a computer model to refine estimates of underground storage capacity in western Ohio for carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants. Additionally, Ohio State University will receive $273,107 to establish a pilot project to demonstrate a method for capturing carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide at Ohio’s coal-burning power plants. The funding comes from Ohio's $150 million Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Plan, $66 million of which is dedicated to clean coal.


 
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Mar 11, 2010

Bill proposes creating clean energy clearinghouse at Ohio University
 

State Representative Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) introduced to the State Senate her bill proposing the creation of the Ohio Energy Resource Center at Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The center would serve as an information hub for companies and governmental entities interested in developing renewable and advanced energy projects. The bill passed the Ohio House last year. A summary of the bill is here. The full bill is here.


 
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Feb 18, 2010

Northeast Ohio communities receive clean energy grants
 

The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC), a consortium that negotiates for electricity and natural gas deals on behalf of 129 communities, said that it will give each community $50,000 for energy efficiency, conservation, and other clean energy projects, according to this story in The Plain Dealer. NOPEC will begin accepting grant applications for the first round of funding on March 1.


 
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Jan 27, 2010

Governor focusing on advanced energy in State of the State address
 

Governor Strickland focused on advanced energy in his State of the State address on January 26, 2010. Without providing extensive details, the Governor called for the suspension of Ohio’s tangible personal property tax on generation for wind and solar companies that break ground on projects in 2010, produce energy by 2012, and create Ohio jobs in the process. It is not clear if other forms of alternative energy will qualify for the personal property tax exemption.

The Governor also announced the creation of a $40 million "Energy Gateway Fund." The combination of state and federal funds will be used to help companies start or expand clean and advanced energy projects in Ohio. The fund will offer capital to companies with products ready for the commercial market, and will require a 1-to-1 match from private dollars.

Changes in the tangible personal property tax will require action by the Ohio General Assembly. Details on both programs will be forthcoming. The text of the speech can be found here, and Strickland Administration highlights here.


 
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Jan 20, 2010

Manufacturing Tax Credit Awards
 

Established as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Section 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit Program is a competitive program aimed at revitalizing manufacturing through the production and manufacturing of certain eligible advanced energy equipment and products.  The Manufacturing Tax Credit will provide manufacturers with an investment tax credit of 30 percent.  For more information on the Manufacturing Tax Credit, see Bricker & Eckler's August 2009 bulletin entitled "Stimulus to Provide Tax Breaks for Manufacturers of Advanced Energy Products and Equipment."

On January 8, 2010, President Obama announced the selection of 183 projects in 43 states, including Ohio, that will receive approximately $2.3 billion in such tax credits.  Among the selected projects in Ohio are the: (1) expansion of the solar PV manufacturing facility of FirstSolar, Inc. in Perrysburg, Ohio; (2) expansion of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.'s production of certain films used in solar PV in Circleville, Ohio; and (3) production of a flexible, lightweight solar cell for easy application on rooftops by Xunlight Corporation in Toledo, Ohio. 


 
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Sep 23, 2009

Hardin County - Largest school wind power installation dedication today
 

The dedication ceremony for the largest on-site, third-party-operated renewable energy system at any Ohio school will be held today at Upper Scioto Valley School District in Hardin County. Two wind turbines recently installed on the District's high school campus will provide up to one-third of the electricity for the school's new Wind/Energy Academy and Green Lab facility and serve as a learning resource for renewable energy and other emerging clean technologies. The project was developed by NexGen Energy Partners, LLC, a national on-site renewable energy systems company. Bricker & Eckler LLP was pleased to participate in the structuring of this initiative.

Read more about the project:
NexGen's press release
Project at-a-glance


 
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Sep 22, 2009

ARRA Funds surpass $1 Billion in dollars to renewable energy projects
 

In a joint press release today, the U.S. Treasury Department and Energy Department announced a milestone in Federal grants in lieu of tax credits under the 1603 program. Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created a program whereby renewable energy companies could receive direct payments for projects instead of tax credits. The program has completed its second phase of funding in less than the statutorily mandated 60-day turnaround.


 
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Sep 21, 2009

October 14th Seminar Registration Open: Financing Ohio's Renewable Energy
 

Please join Bricker & Eckler LLP and Novogradac & Company LLP for a one-day intensive training workshop that will explore options and tools for financing Ohio renewable energy projects. 

Featured panelists include:

  • Mark Shanahan, Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, Executive Director and Energy Advisor to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland
  • Steven Klein, First Infrastructure LLC, Financial Advisor to the upcoming U.S. Department of Energy's 1705 Loan Guarantee Program
  • Darrell Fields, Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, General Counsel 

Agenda at a glance:

  • Tour of State Subsidies 
  • Debt Financing 
  • Structuring Equity Transactions 
  • Ohio's Role & Next Steps 

Wednesday, October 14th 
10 am - 4 pm
Cleveland Forum Conference Center

For agenda and registration information visit: http://www.novoco.com/emails/events/2009/aug_09-5.htm

Financing Ohio's Renewable Energy is being co-sponsored by Bricker & Eckler LLP and Novogradac & Company LLP.


 
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Aug 24, 2009

Financing Ohio's Renewable Energy
 

Please join us for a one-day intensive training that will explore subsidies available for renewable energy projects in Ohio.  Featured panelists include Ohio Air Quality Development Authority Executive Director and Energy Advisor to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Mark Shanahan, Steven Klein of First Infrastructure, LLC, the Financial Advisor to the upcoming U.S. Department of Energy's 1705 Loan Guarantee Program, and Ohio Air Quality Development Authority General Counsel Darrell Fields.

Wednesday, October 14th
10 am - 4 pm
Cleveland Forum Conference Center

For agenda and registration information visit:  http://www.novoco.com/emails/events/2009/aug_09-5.htm

Financing Ohio's Renewable Energy is being co-sponsored by Bricker & Eckler LLP and Novogradac & Company LLP.


 
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Jul 20, 2009

Ohio House Bill 1 Allows Municipal and Township Financing of Solar Energy Projects
 

Ohio House Bill 1, the biennium budget, allows Ohio municipalities and townships to assist property owners in financing solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems, including roof-top and ground-mounted solar arrays and solar water heaters.

Find out more about the new legislation and how municipalities and townships can assist with these SIDs in this Bricker & Eckler Green Strategies Bulletin.


 
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Jun 11, 2009

AMP-Ohio and Willard & Kelsey Solar Group Recipients of Ohio Job Stimulus Advanced Energy Funding
 

On June 9, 2009, Governor Ted Strickland and Mark Shanahan, Executive Director of the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority and energy advisor to the Governor announced the first two awards of advanced energy funding under Ohio’s 2008 Bipartisan Job Stimulus Plan Advanced Energy Fund. The recipients of these first two awards were AMP-Ohio and Willard & Kelsey Solar Group. AMP-Ohio received a $30 million bridge loan to assist in the construction of its 1,000-megawatt clean-coal generating station in Meigs County, while Willard & Kelsey received a $10 Million loan over two years to assist in financing the company’s planned expansion of its Perrysburg solar manufacturing facility. 

In the funding announcement, Governor Strickland stated, “The first two recipients of these funds are great examples of how investing in advanced energy technologies is stimulating Ohio’s economy,” said Strickland. “The impacts of President Obama’s recovery act and our bipartisan state stimulus package are becoming evident – we are creating the jobs of the future in Ohio today.” The Governor's comments were echoed by, Dr. Shanahan, who stated, “These two outstanding projects demonstrate that the Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Program is fulfilling its mission to support cutting-edge projects that are on a fast track toward commercialization. These investments can attract additional investment and will put Ohioans to work in the jobs of the future.”

The Advanced Energy Fund was signed into law by Governor Strickland approximately a year ago, and includes  $66  million  for  clean  coal  technology  projects, and  $84  million,  to  be  allocated  in  three  $28  million  annual  appropriations,  for  non-coal-related  projects.   As announced last October, OAQDA’s  process for awarding funds  includes review by both  internal  and  external  reviewers,  review by the  Development  Finance  Advisory  Council,  and, finally, review and approval by the  State  Controlling  Board.  To learn more about the Advanced Energy Fund or to apply, see OAQDA’s Advanced Energy Fund website.


 
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May 26, 2009

Funding Renewable Energy Projects: USDA Opens 2009 REAP Program Funding Opportunities
 

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the 2009 Notice of Solicitation for Applicants ("NOSA") for the Rural Energy for America Program ("REAP").  This program provides grant and loan guarantee funding opportunities for rural small businesses to develop qualifying renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.  For the year 2009, $60 million in funding is available, and USDA will fund 25 percent of eligible project costs up to $500,000 for renewable energy projects and $250,000 for energy efficiency projects. Loan guarantees are funded up to the lesser of $25 million or 75% of eligible project costs. Applications are due to USDA by July 31, 2009.

You can access more information on the REAP NOSA that was released by USDA earlier today at:  http://farmenergy.org/news/usda-announces-reap-funding-for-2009.


 
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