COSE Partners on New Ohio Energy Resource Fund

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 / 5/22/2013 12:00:00 AM

CLEVELAND – May 22, 2013 – Manufacturers, schools, churches, and clinics throughout the Buckeye State could cut tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, thanks to a new pioneering financial tool launching today by the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), efficiency-services financer Metrus Energy, and CalCEF, an organization focused on accelerating clean energy technologies.

 The new Ohio Efficiency Resource Fund provides otherwise hard-to-get financing for small and medium-sized businesses to make energy-efficiency improvements, with no upfront costs and no risk. This innovative approa ch bridges the funding gap that has stymied small- and mid-sized retrofit projects—thousands of buildings statewide.

 Here’s how it works: The Fund signs an Efficiency Services Agreement (ESA) for up to 10 years with a building owner, purchases the new equipment, and hires contractors to design, install, measure, and maintain the energy-saving improvements. As a result, the customer sees a reduction in its total utility bill, while the building becomes more functional, productive, and comfortable. The Fund recoups its investment by billing customers for their actual realized efficiency gains. Since the useful life of the energy-efficiency equipment continues well beyond the life of the contract, customers continue to save for years to come.

 The Fund also will help property owners meet the state’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which calls for cutting electricity use 22.2 percent by 2025. The Fund is now accepting applications from facility owners who have efficiency retrofit projects costing less than $1 million.

“Like a utility sells electricity, the Fund will sell efficiency as a service to building owners, delivering savings to local businesses,” said Bob Hinkle, President and CEO of Metrus Energy, the Fund’s manager and creator of the Efficiency Services Agreement. “We are excited to partner with COSE to bring our efficiency finance know-how to this market.”

 COSE, the largest small business support organization in Ohio with more than 14,000 members, will play the critical role of helping identify and match suitable projects with vetted local contractors. This is well-trodded territory for COSE, which offers several energy programs to save Ohio businesses — including an efficiency financing program recently recognized by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE).

 “This strategy makes the most of smart financing and local expertise,” said Nicole Stika, Senior Director of Energy Services for the Council of Smaller Enterprises. “It’s also a great way to generate jobs. Ohio, by conservative estimates, already has more than 10,000 jobs tied to energy efficiency, but that’s just the start; there’s tremendous potential in the energy efficiency sector.”

 By providing much needed financing, the Fund will help network service providers conducting audits and recommending energy efficiency measures to retrofit existing buildings.

 “Our team is skilled at helping building owners identify and implement energy projects that pay for themselves through the utility bill savings they create,” said David Zehala, President of Columbus-based energy services company Plug Smart. “This program obliterates all the financial barriers associated with these projects making it easier for our clients to say yes.”

“By more effectively connecting the supply of products and materials from Ohio companies to Ohio projects, the Fund will be an economic boon for the state,” said Shanelle Smith, Director, Emerald Cities Cleveland, a Fund partner. EC Cleveland, an arm of the Emerald Cities Collaborative, is a network of organizations working together to advance a sustainable environment while creating greater economic opportunities. “The Efficiency Resource Fund is enabling a whole class of projects that may otherwise not be completed,” she said.

 COSE will host the first of several workshops for contractors to provide an overview of efficiency opportunities and financial resources on Thursday, June 6, at Corporate College East in Warrensville Heights

 Working with COSE, CalCEF expects to raise $10 million from investors by the end of the year for the Fund. Details of the model are explained in their concept paper, “The Sub-Million Dollar Question: Leveraging Impact Investment and Service Agreements for Small and Mid-Sized Energy Efficiency Projects.”

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About Council of Smaller Enterprises
COSE (www.cose.org) is one of Ohio’s largest small business support organizations, striving to help small businesses grow and maintain their independence. Comprised of more than 14,000 member companies, COSE has a long history of fighting for the rights of all small business owners, whether it’s through group purchasing programs for health care, workers’ compensation, or energy, advocating for specific changes in legislation or regulation to benefit small business, or providing a forum and resources for small businesses to connect with and learn from each other.

About Metrus Energy
Metrus Energy, Inc. (www.metrusenergy.com) is a leader in EE project development and financing for retrofit and building upgrade projects at commercial, industrial and institutional facilities. Through its innovative Efficiency Services Agreement (ESA), Metrus pays for all upfront and ongoing project costs, removing initial investment as a barrier and providing facilities with immediate financial, operational and environmental benefits. In recognition of its leadership position in the EE financing industry, Metrus was selected by the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy as a financial ally for the Better Buildings Challenge program, through which it has committed to develop over $75 million in projects using its ESA structure to help the United States achieve its energy saving objectives.

 About Emerald Cities Collaborative
Emerald Cities Cleveland is a local chapter of Emerald Cities Collaborative (www.emeraldcities.org). ECC is a national, nonprofit 501(c)(3) sustainable development intermediary comprised of an unprecedented network of labor, community, government, and business organizations. ECC is unified around a bold agenda: to transform US metropolitan regions into high-road economies. The goal is to re-engineer America’s land-based economic development model into a sustainable development model that intentionally focuses on community wealth-building and equitable development principles. ECC iss engaged in the rapid, scaled, and economically-sustainable greening of 10 cities: Atlanta, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Oakland, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, and Seattle.

 About CalCEF
CalCEF (www.calcef.org) works to promote the transition to a clean energy economy by creating institutions and investment vehicles that grow markets for clean energy technologies. CalCEF is a hybrid organization that pursues statewide and national agendas via 1) CalCEF Innovations, a 501(c)(3) that leads CalCEF’s analysis and product development efforts; 2) CalCEF Ventures, a 501(c)(4) that executes and scales the CalCEF investment strategy via a fund-of-funds model, partnering with leading investment managers; and 3) CalCEF Catalyst, a 501(c)(6) a platform creating replicable models for “demand driven innovation” that require the sustained collective action of stakeholders from across the clean energy sector.