Last month, Energy Alliance team members Andy Holzhauser and Jeremy Faust were in Frankfort to attend a bill signing for the Energy Project Assessment District Act, or EPAD.
EPAD, also known as PACE nationally, is a unique economic development tool designed to allow commercial and industrial building owners to finance energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy improvements through a voluntary special assessment attached to the property.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed the bill into law noting the energy and water saving potential that EPADs offer Kentucky businesses.
The Energy Alliance is working with partners throughout Kentucky to develop this new tool. If you are interested in learning more, please call us at 513-621-4232 ext. 3.
Governor Steve Beshear signing into law the Energy Project Assessment District Act. From left to right: Representative Russ Meyer, bill proponent; Representative James Kay, EPAD bill sponsor; Jeremy Faust, Energy Alliance Strategic Business Development Director; Governor Steve Beshear (seated); Andy Holzhauser, Energy Alliance CEO; Richard Pickren, Harshaw Trane Vice President of Finance; Brooke Parker, Frost Brown Todd.
Pen presented to the Energy Alliance as one of the 15 used to sign the bill into law.
Among the legislative achievements of last night’s legislative session in Frankfort was Senate and House approval of HB100, a bill to authorize PACE, also called EPAD (Energy Project Assessment Districts) in Kentucky.
Residents of Greater Cincinnati may be familiar with the work done by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance in bringing PACE to Southwest Ohio—the first PACE district was set up in the City of Cincinnati last year. GC-PACE offers commercial property owners (businesses, nonprofits, governments, etc.) the opportunity to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through energy savings. The model offers a unique extended-term financing solution to support businesses in making critical energy-related improvements to their buildings.
After a nearly two-year legislative effort, led by the Energy Alliance and the Kentucky EPAD Council (including representatives from Harshaw Trane, Ross Sinclair & Associates, and the law firm Frost Brown Todd), the Kentucky legislature has authorized PACE as a new tool for local governments throughout Kentucky. The legislation was championed by Representative James Kay of Woodford Co.
A Well-Supported Bill
The bill received strong support from both parties and was endorsed by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky Manufacturers Association, the Kentucky Association of Building Contractors, the Kentucky AIA Chapter, Greater Louisville Inc., and the cities of Covington and Florence, among others.
To underscore this accomplishment, though hundreds of bills are introduced in the legislature each year, only a small handful are adopted. Those were the odds we were working with going in to this effort, and we have come out with a victory on a topic that had overwhelming support from democrats and republicans in both the Kentucky House and Senate.
The Energy Alliance expects the bill to be signed by the Governor in the coming weeks. After that, the Energy Alliance will continue our work to bring this innovative financing tool to building owners throughout the state.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is designed to drive investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy in Greater Cincinnati. By making energy investments easier, PACE has the power to spur economic and community development in our region. With these goals at the forefront, the Energy Alliance has been making an ongoing effort to help educate our community on these issues.
On November 11, we convened a diverse group of finance leaders, municipal leaders, and commercial contractors for a breakfast discussion about how to expand PACE in Greater Cincinnati. The focus of the event was to provide attendees with an understanding of how PACE is being utilized in other parts of the country and to answer their questions about how to grow PACE locally. We were fortunate to have the discussion led by David Gabrielson, George Caragthiaur, and Kristina Klimovich from PACENow, a national organization that promotes and assists the development of PACE programs. It was a lively conversation and we look forward to providing additional opportunities to learn about PACE in the future.
The reasons that motivate an organization to pursue energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements are often as diverse as the organizations themselves. Recently, Energy Alliance staff spent a day visiting two very different organizations that have made a commitment to saving energy: the Kroger Company and Melink Corporation.
The Kroger Company:
Kroger grocery stores consumes large amounts of energy to power everything from lighting and refrigeration to air conditioning and electronic equipment. With over 2,600 stores across the country, any energy savings Kroger can produce in each store results in a substantial positive financial impact for the company.
To witness their efforts first hand, we visited the Branchhill-Guinea Pike store in Loveland, which serves as one of Kroger’s testing facilities for energy efficiency measures. We were given a thorough tour of the facility by Denis George (Kroger Corporate Energy Manager), Ryan Stuckenberg (Kroger Energy Engineer), and Andrew Finton (Kroger Energy Coordinator and former Energy Alliance staff member). We were taken almost everywhere in the store, from the sales floor to freezer rooms to mechanical rooms. We learned about how Kroger uses skylights to reduce the amount of lighting needed in stores and how improvements in their refrigeration and monitoring systems have improved their bottom line. We even climbed up to the roof to view their rooftop solar arrays.
For Kroger, the decision to invest in energy efficiency was a practical business decision that has resulted in a 35% reduction in energy consumption.
The Melink Corporation:
The Energy Alliance also visited the Melink Corporation, located near Milford. Melink’s mission is to “provide clean energy solutions that help its customers become strategically competitive, and to inspire them by its example“. Melink is led by a proactive CEO, Steve Melink, who not only provides sustainable energy solutions as a service, but uses his own organization to lead the way.
Our visit was spent touring Melink’s solar canopies, electric car charging stations, solar thermal water heating system, interactive energy production display, geothermal installation, and their admittedly low-performing wind turbine. The organization encourages its employees to actively participate in reducing their energy consumption, and its CEO leads the charge.
Sustainable energy is their service, but it is also their lifestyle. Melink saves energy and is fueled by their positive impact on their community.
Many thanks to the Kroger Company and Melink Corporation for spending time with us to get a deeper understanding of their energy saving initiatives.
Here’s a few photos from our visits:
Advancing Clean Energy Finance Across the Board
On October 1st, national experts from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other organizations came together in Cincinnati to highlight best practice approaches to advance clean energy financing in both Ohio and Kentucky. The event focused on residential and commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy markets. Participants had an opportunity to learn about:
- Residential energy efficiency lending programs in Ohio and Kentucky
- Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing in Ohio and Kentucky
- Local and national Green Bank initiatives
- Several innovative efforts to advance clean energy finance in the region
Highlighting Efforts Nationally, Locally, and Between
Over 130 people representing the banking, energy contracting, public finance, local and state government, economic development, and real estate management sectors participated in the roundtable.
The event featured a keynote address by John MacWilliams, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, who provided an overview of federal government initiatives that are helping to scale clean energy financing across the country.
One highlight of the day came when 15 local professionals had an opportunity to share their work in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. During the discussion participants learned about projects including:
- City of Cincinnati’s effort to incorporate renewable energy projects as part of its “Green Cincinnati Plan”
- The first completed project under the local GC-PACE program
- OKI’s work through the Department of Energy’s “SunShot” initiative to promote scaling of solar projects by reducing soft costs and increasing the efficiency of the zoning and permitting processes
- Macy’s initiative to significantly reducing energy use in its stores through an innovative LED lighting solution developed by Middletown-based HP Energy
- The Cincinnati Zoo’s large solar parking lot canopy project.
The event was the first of what will be a series of discussions surrounding clean energy financing and the benefits that it can provide our region. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Energy Alliance.