Monday, May 13, 2013

Cincinnati moving closer to solar rooftop program

On April 10, Cincinnati City Council adopted a motion directing the administration to establish a solar rooftop program and a new financing mechanism that would enable the bundling of residential and commercial properties to facilitate power purchase and lease agreements for solar energy installations.

The motion, drafted by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, requests that the City partner with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, Green Umbrella, and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance to develop the program.

The goal is to have solar energy installed on at least 20 percent of the City's buildings by 2028, which was one of the goals set in the 2008 Green Cincinnati Plan.

"Buildings in the United States account for 72 percent of electricity consumption, 39 percent of energy use, and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions," Qualls wrote in a statement accompanying the motion.

Interested property owners could finance the renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades through a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which would allow them to pay off the cost through a 20-year property tax assessment. This makes energy retrofits more viable not only for homeowners, but also for smaller businesses, which may not have access to the commercial loan market, Qualls wrote.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted PACE-enabling legislation. Ohio passed its legislation in 2009.

"The assessment mechanism has been used nationwide for decades to access low-cost, long-term capital to finance improvements to private property that meet a public purpose," Qualls wrote. "The PACE financing mechanism provides a strong credit that is attractive to private sector investors and without government subsidies."

The motion also supported the development of a workforce skilled in sustainable energy trades, providing jobs for City residents in the emerging green building economy.

"Cincinnati's education infrastructure is well-placed to achieve these goals," Qualls wrote.

A report on the motion and enabling ordinances are expected before Council by mid-June.

Previous reading on BC:
Qualls motion would establish new financing for solar (4/3/13)
CPA annual meeting, awards to highlight Zoo's stewardship initiatives (11/15/12)
Park Board completes solar installations (3/16/11)
United Way completes $16M renovation, conference center (3/3/11)
Parks solar project wins state award (2/14/11)