Energy Works and Finance Authority partner to offer green energy financing

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

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance, Sustainability

Greenworks offering PACE financing for energy upgrades to Ohio businesses

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

Energy Efficiency, Funding Opportunities, Project Finance

First PACE project in Sycamore Township completed

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

Energy Efficiency, Environmental, Project Finance, Solar

Lender encouraging Ohio businesses to use PACE financing for energy upgrades

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

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance

OSU selects partner for energy management in $1.165 billion deal

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

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance, Sustainability

Columbus’s Smart City efforts part of plan to become “nation’s teacher”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has ambitious plans for the city’s Smart City efforts, saying “the plan is for Columbus to become ‘the nation’s teacher in how to become a Smart City,’” Columbus Business First reports. At a recent press conference, Ginther announced the hiring of the city’s “first chief innovation officer to lead the Smart City effort”: former deputy director of the Columbus Department of Development, Mike Stevens. Ginther also “said the Smart City effort has secured $367 million in public and private investment pledges to complement the initial $40 million in funding approved by the federal government,” according to the article. That amount includes $31 million from the city “primarily toward clean energy initiatives by the Columbus Division of Power.” Most of the private funding has been pledged by American Electric Power, which has focused its investing in “new electric vehicle charging stations and a rollout of smart meters.” For more, read the full article.

Project Finance

OSU’s energy privatization plan attracts “world’s leading experts”

In a recent email to students, faculty and staff at The Ohio State University, the school said “some of the world’s leading experts in energy conservation and management want to help Ohio State meet our goals,” referring to OSU’s plan to privatize the management of its energy resources (see our March 1, 2016 blog post), Columbus Business First reports. The goal of OSU’s Comprehensive Energy Management Project is “for another entity or entities to focus on ‘non-core’ university assets (as in, not educational), and for the university to use revenue from the partnership on academic endeavors (see our March 5, 2015 blog post),” according to the article. OSU is “finalizing materials to send out requests for proposals” from six finalists identified during an application process (see our September 12, 2016 blog post) that began after OSU started exploring the possibility of privatization about two years ago. For more, read the full article.  

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance

OSU in final stage of selection for company to manage its energy

Ohio State University (OSU) is nearing the end of the process to select an outside group to manage its energy resources (see our March 1, 2016 blog post), Columbus Business First reports. OSU is reviewing six bids for the project; the board of trustees must approve the final plan. OSU President Michael Drake said that the benefits of the privatization plan extend beyond revenue generated to increased sustainability and energy efficiency for the campus. “I walk into different buildings where it’s hot in one room and cold in the next room, winter or summer,” Drake said, adding that OSU is “just not in the 21st century.” Columbus Business First reports that “[n]o school close to the size of Ohio State has leased such a large asset.” Drake said while the university “could wait for others” to show the way forward, “we’d prefer to be exemplars.” For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance, Sustainability

Federal guidance announced for residential PACE programs

On July 19, 2016, the White House announced the Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative, a new partnership among several federal agencies designed to increase access to solar energy and promote energy efficiency. The new initiative has a goal of bringing 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low- and moderate- income families by 2020 through collaboration with state and local groups. 

The White House also announced new steps that the federal agencies involved with the initiative are taking to promote energy efficiency financing. For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) are releasing guidance regarding how Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs can be used in conjunction with residential mortgages insured by the VA or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The Department of Energy (DOE) is releasing an updated draft of its Best Practices Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing that includes protections to consumers who voluntarily opt into residential PACE programs, as well as lenders who hold mortgages on residential properties with PACE assessments. The DOE is also providing assistance to support the design and implementation of new PACE programs, and creating the Community Solar Challenge to promote the development of innovative models that increase access to solar and energy efficiency programs, particularly in low-income communities. 

For more, read the full White House press release.

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance, Solar

New bond fund will help finance energy upgrades on historic Delco building in downtown Dayton

Downtown Dayton’s historic Delco building is undergoing a $25 million rehabilitation thanks in part to $3.8 million in financing from the Southwest Ohio Regional Bond Fund, the Dayton Business Journal reports. The funds “will be used for energy efficiency upgrades on the Delco building,” including “new windows and high-efficiency HVAC systems,” according to the article. The fund is a collaboration between the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority and the Dayton/Montgomery County Port Authority; these are “some of the first funds” to be disbursed since the fund was finalized last year. The bonds “will be repaid through a voluntary real estate assessment known as PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy (for more information, see our Energy SIDs & PACE Financing Resource Center).” The project has received state historic tax credits, and the Delco building has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, which would make it eligible “for a 20 percent federal tax credit on the renovation project” if granted. “Adaptive re-use of distressed properties such as Delco was the purpose” of the Southwest Ohio Regional Bond Fund, which recently received a BBB+ Standard & Poor’s rating. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance
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