Commercial, Energy Efficiency, Power Prices - August 22, 2017
PACE financing projects take off in Michigan
An energy efficiency overhaul of Detroit's historic Whitney Restaurant that includes heating, cooling, lighting, controls and window insulation was recently profiled as the first in the area to use financing from the Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program.
According to Crain's Detroit Business, the more than 100-year old Whitney building's makeover is one of eight projects that have already taken advantage of PACE in Michigan, with five to 10 more expected by the end of the year. Another has been completed at a medical office in Clinton Township; both projects are saving building owners 10% to 20% on their utility bills.
The publication quoted Andy Levin, president of Levin Energy Partners LLC, which promotes the PACE program, as saying the two projects are illustrative examples of the program's potential in the state.
"You have The Whitney, a historically important building, one critically important to retrofit for the future," Levin reportedly said. "You have a small medical office building ...[that is] is a symbol of how PACE can help make owners cut their operating costs" and increase occupancy rates by attracting new tenants.
The owner of The Whitney, Bud Liebler, at first thought the PACE program "sounded too good to be true," particularly given the expected savings associated with the upgrades, Crain's reported:
[A]n old building means upgrades and repairs — expensive ones — and Liebler needed a way to pay for it. Each year, he spent an average of $100,000 on operations and maintenance for the mansion.
Through the PACE program, Liebler found a new path forward. His $863,000 loan through Austin, Texas-based Petros PACE Finance is covering the Whitney's — sometimes challenging — energy efficiency upgrades. According to Crain's, the more than 100-year old mansion that houses the restaurant presented a host of unique challenges along the way; one was replacing 1,600 chandelier light bulbs with energy-efficiency LEDs without changing the mansion's ambiance.
Over 20 years, the upgrades are expected to save about $450,000.
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