Free webinar covers financing options for municipal energy projects

PLUS : How Fowler, Colo., financed its energy projects with NO upfront costs

Sept. 13, 2011, 11 a.m. Central Time 

There is more than one way for municipalities to finance energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects, and a free webinar Sept. 13 at 11 a.m. Central Time will be exploring some of those options. Hosted by Energy Forefront, Municipal Financing Options for Renewable Energy External link information will focus on how local governments can help homes, businesses and their own facilities use less energy or even generate it.

Three presentations will examine various methods available to municipalities for financing renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects, either for the municipality or for their citizens and business owners. Topics include:

  • Multiple Methods that Cities/Towns Could Use to Finance Renewable Energy and Energy-efficiency Projects, including Federal tax benefits, aggregation, securitization of smaller projects, 501c3 non-profit corporations and more – Baird Brown, attorney at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
  • How Various Cities & Towns Structured their Energy Financing – Vincent DeVito, Attorney at Bowditch & Dewey LLP
  • Financing Municipal Renewable Energy Projects with No Upfront Costs describes how Fowler, Colo., procured financing for wind solar, biomass and several other energy-related projects without any upfront costs to the city – Wayne Snider

Reserve your place today.

You’ve Won a New Home… Sort of: Six Years of Home Energy Makeover Contests

Ed Thomas, EGIA

The Home Energy Makeover contest is not about the winners—it’s all about showing the homeowners who don’t win what can be done to lower energy bills.

The program started in Montrose, Colo., and has spread across the country. This spring, Sacramento Municipal Utility District will hold its first contest. In Atlanta, Ga., a contest is being funded with Recovery dollars. In November, a contest in Pennsylvania will show what can be done to improve the performance of a house less than 2 years old.

Pick a typical home and family so that other consumers can relate. The makeover is based on building science, so the recommendations are not random. Expect to take about six to eight months to plan, recruit sponsors, promote the contest and screen entrants. Allow another three to four months to make improvements and publicize results—educating consumers is an ongoing task before, during and after the contest.

At the beginning of the contest, the website should answer the question, “How do I enter?” Then, the contest site needs to evolve to answer “How do I do that in my home?” Post the case studies of completed projects, along with links to drive the visitors to the contractors who worked on them.

The costs of mounting a Home Energy Makeover contest are fixed around administration, technical oversight and promotion. The variable costs are determined by the number of makeover winners, the value of homes and the cost of processing paper entries.

Better Buildings Through Partnership: An Update from Boulder County

Ann Livingston, Sustainability Coordinator, Boulder County

Boulder has received an EECBG grant for $25 million to replicate programs the city has been pursuing for years to reduce its carbon footprint through more efficient buildings.

In 2005, the city adopted greenhouse gas emission reduction goals that reflect the Kyoto Protocols and are more ambitious than the state goals. The target is a city with net zero waste and energy.

Prior to Xcel launching its home audit program, Boulder’s Residential Energy Action program subsidized energy audits for city homeowners. Post-audit counseling was offered to encourage audit participants to make recommended improvements. Consumers who now get audits from Xcel can still get counseling from Boulder.

Audit participants who did take action invested about $7,000 in upgrades on average. The city launched the Climate Smart loan program to add more funding for improvements–$3,550 for energy efficiency-only projects, and up to $13,000 for projects that encompass both renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The overarching program goal for BetterBuildings program is to provide a one-stop shop for energy efficiency that will overcome the traditional barriers to consumer’s investing in energy efficiency. The city aims to save $100 million annually and to create jobs with the program.

RFPs for the residential, commercial and joint contractor services have been awarded. The city plans a soft launch for the program from late October to December.

BetterBuildings will provide energy audits with focused one-on-on assistance, financial assist and ongoing support. Energy Corps, a local business, will do onsite air sealing during blower door tests. An “energy concierge” facilitates conversion by helping homeowner to find contractors, apply for rebates, microloans and other financing. The cost will be same or close to Xcel’s audit program.

Xcel, Boulder’s power provider, is assisting with some of the direct installs. The city has synched up call centers with Xcel. The target is to hit 10,000 homes in three years.

Boulder’s commercial program involves direct outreach through neighborhood sweeps to identify energy-saving opportunities in small businesses. Rebates are available to encourage business owners to do maintenance that would improve efficiency, or to change out old, inefficiency equipment and systems.

Program partners include Xcel, which assisted Boulder with the application, marketing and implementation, and the city of Longmont, which helped with program design. Contractors and labor helped in the application phase and will help with marketing.

In the next phase of BetterBuildings, the city will work on successfully engaging contractors to sell energy efficiency, and not just “granite countertops.” Bringing the programs to self-sufficiency in three years is another goal, as is continued job growth and a sustainable jobs market. For every federal dollar spent, another 70 cents of Boulder money was spent. Developing closer partnerships with utilities will smooth the way to the goals.

Webinar offers energy solutions for municipalities

Green Energy Leaders is hosting a webinar Tuesday, June 29, that will look at ways towns, counties, campuses and facilities can develop clean energy.

Beginning at noon Eastern Time, the 90-minute webinar will cover energy planning, wind power and anaerobic digesters in three presentations. Western customer Fowler, Colo.’s plan to move entirely off-grid is the topic of  Small City .. Big Green Energy Plans. Town Administrator Wayne Snider will explain how Fowler’s clean energy plan is attracting industry, creating jobs and saving thousands in energy costs.

Learn about a new wind turbine design that fits both urban and rural applications in An Unusual Wind Tower With Multiple Fans Cuts Initial Costs and Maintenance. David Hurwitt, vice president of Marketing for Optiwin, will describe his company’s mid-sized turbines, including performance, costs, financing and return on investment.

The third presentation explores different types of anaerobic digesters and how they might benefit municipalities.