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policy director, Minnesota
Solar Energy Industries Association,
John Doll, former Minnesota State Senator
Civic Caucus, 8301
Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
August 19, 2011
Verne Johnson (chair), Janis Clay, Paul Gilje,
Summary of meeting:
John Doll, former state Senator and Lynn Hinkle, policy director for the
Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, describe the detail behind
Executive Order 11-12 signed by Governor Dayton earlier this year. That
order calls for use of existing laws for financing energy saving capital
improvements of public buildings through the investment of private funds,
which are repaid over time by the guaranteed annual realized energy
companies willing to do the retrofit work quantify the estimated amount of
savings, and form an agreement with the building's owner to be repaid,
with interest, from the savings preventing the building owners from having
to raise their own capital. The speakers say the state aims to save $200
million and create 3,000 jobs with this effort.
Welcome and introductions
is a former member of the Minnesota Senate from the southwest Metro. He
was first elected in 2006, and was a member of, among others, the Energy,
Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee before being unseated
in 2010. He also served on the Finance Subcommittee for the Transportation
Budget and Policy Division. Doll attended the University
College. He has run a successful tile and stone installation company.
is Policy Director for the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA),
which represents and serves
and solar energy businesses. He helped lead the recent effort to pass
Minnesota Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation to enable
counties and cities to finance energy efficiency/solar installations on
commercial and residential properties. A principal in HK Climate
Solutions, Lynn has implemented commercial retrofit projects incorporating
new energy saving technology. Hinkle lead UAW Local 879's "Green Plant,
Green Product" efforts to convert the Twin Cities Ford Assembly Plant
prior to 2006, co-chaired the State's Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Task
Force in 2007 and helped launch the Mayors' Green Manufacturing
Facilitating private investment in energy efficient capital projects
I am thrilled to have an opportunity to discuss a couple of policies that
are important to alternative energy in the state. I'll be talking a little
bit about the Executive Order 11-12 and "property-assessed clean energy"
or PACE legislation. Both deal with the redirection of dollars currently
being spent on inefficient energy use toward installation of energy
efficiency and renewable energy improvements. We don't feel the scale of
implementation is nearly what it should be, but we're getting there.
state senator I was Vice Chair of the Energy Committee. In that position,
I'd often have people come in asking questions about how to subsidize
energy bills for the poor and elderly. Having a background in
construction, I got to thinking about how we could spend money on the
front end to save money over time, rather than simply subsidizing peoples'
Fostering improvements and jobs with energy efficiency and renewable
This is an important opportunity for economic development. When you look
at other states like
the Governor there was in a huge budget crunch, but meanwhile had to do a
large amount of capital improvements after years of rolling deferred
maintenance. Someone suggested using existing statutes for use of energy
savings to finance deep retrofits with private dollars.
has since implemented over $600 million worth of contracts for energy
savings and renewable energy. This has created an estimated 14,000 jobs.
That's all repurposed money that is not being wasted, but being used to
install HVAC(heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, new
windows and roofs - "deep" retrofitting, as the industry calls it, that
gets the whole job done not just smart thermostats and new lighting. These
holistic retrofits create both enormous energy savings and jobs as well.
coalition called the Energy Jobs Initiative went to Governor Dayton with
this idea, and it resulted in Executive Order 11-12. (See:
http://bit.ly/nbmgky) The order stipulates that state agencies adopt
"cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies... to
achieve no less than an aggregate 20 percent reduction in energy use." The
executive order also requires that state agencies "implement ... energy
improvements utilizing Guaranteed Energy Savings Contracts, the State
Energy Improvement Financing Program, or other...financing mechanisms that
may be appropriate." A goal of $200 million in contracts, and the creation
of 3,000 jobs in
has been set as goals.
A "guaranteed energy savings"
Where does the money come from?
A private company determines through a rigorous audit the range of
installations possible and the dollar value of energy savings that can be
companies called Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) will be paid back
through the savings that they use to advance the money for the retrofit.
In Pennsylvania's case $600 million in private money has been fronted.
This payback method is intentionally called "guaranteed energy savings"
because the retrofitting companies guarantee through contracts that the
dollar amount of annual energy cost saved will be sufficient to repay the
cost of the retrofitting over a given period of time-otherwise the
companies absorb the difference as a loss.
How does this work-walk us through the public transaction. There is a
public building that stands to benefit from the program. A retrofit would
cost $500,000. What happens?
A private company would come in and say they can achieve a $50,000
reduction in energy cost per year for a retrofitting project with a price
tag of $500,000. The company will be paid back with interest through the
savings that are actually realized, which savings they must
guarantee-otherwise they eat the cost, and write a check to the property
owner for the difference. So in this example the contract runs for 10-12
years depending on debt service.
How accurate are the energy savings assessments?
When the company comes in it has to be pretty thorough in its initial
energy assessment. They have to assess deferred maintenance, physical
plant condition, opportunities for savings; they spell out how it will
work, and negotiate what they believe to be a reasonable set of
improvements. Sometimes the company will offer to do the on-going
operation and maintenance to make sure the resulting system works as
effectively as it should. These companies are established and well-known:
Honeywell, Ameresco, Johnson Controls, etc. with capacity to ensure
reliable long term contracts.
The parties use Investment Grade Audits (IGA) and the International
Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) in structuring
the deals. These are industry standards that have been established to
guide projects just like this.
Is this mechanism available for all public buildings or just State
Yes - There are Minnesota statutes enabling this mechanism for three
categories of public buildings: state, municipalities, and school
Does solar energy fall under this?
This can be a source of financing solar-this is what's important about the
longer-term window for financing and bundling all the potential energy
savings together. The longer terms for these contracts helps to pay off
clean energy improvements that are more expensive at first.
Sounds like this is very finance-driven and not driven by engineering and
construction expertise. Are the incentives properly aligned?
The investment-grade audit is done by engineers. They aren't sales
people-the people walking through buildings drawing up the list of
installations are engineers. They need to spec these at very high levels
in order for them to be viable. You're not spec'ing the buildings by
conjecture; it has to be done by people that have been doing this for a
very long time.
This financing can help building owners invest in energy saving upgrades
What are the major areas of potential savings?
Windows and glazing, heating, energy control, insulation, water, waste and
recycling. Controls are pretty high on the list of priorities-heating and
ventilation controls, for example, in a very large building. When you have
a sophisticated controls system you can save a lot of money-particularly
in an older building.
The easiest one is the lighting-that's the "low-hanging fruit". We try to
incorporate are what you could call "lifetime costs", those things that
are costing you money each month but which require more money than you
have to spare all at once. So what this seeks to do is bundle the easier
smaller items so you can actually stop deferring the more costly but
If I'm acting in my own self-interest as a business director of a school
district, why haven't I already done this, with windows, boilers, etc?
Good question. There has been increased budget pain in school districts in
particular with the deferred asset maintenance, and it will continue to be
difficult to find ways to maintain school infrastructure. They will
probably do a combination of things. This is a way to deal with deferred
maintenance and use private dollars to cut costs for public buildings and
focus public dollars to educate Minnesota youth for the clean energy
Executive Order can play the role of a solution-why raise taxes through
public referendum when you can use these kinds of jobs programs with
the hesitation will be because facility mangers think they will get around
to doing these savings themselves. There is story after story of property
owners that look at the sheet of recommendations that an energy company
comes in and gives them, and say 'we can do these ourselves.' But they
don't. Then a decade later they're saying, 'wow, we could have done that.'
Now is the time to use holistic energy savings for all of Minnesota's
Schools are the biggest users of energy saving technologies now. If you
look at Johnson Controls' list of where they're working, most-maybe
three-quarters-of it will be schools right now.
that people in maintenance departments say they will get around to
financing energy improvements with their annual budget. But now this
executive order guarantees results, brings the money in from other sources
of financing, and enables the savings to play out over many years.
Examples of where this has already worked in Minnesota
There are case studies for savings. The city of
is a good example having done a large project. It has been a positive
experience for them. Rochester did more than $5 million in city projects
(ice arena, city arena, motor pool, etc) that are being financed this way,
based on engineers' calculated energy savings.
county of Anoka has been very excited with the results. U of M Morris, the
Duluth schools are also examples of positive results. The list crosses
many sectors. The executive order encourages all of
agencies to dive deeper than public financed lighting and retro
Creating more private sector jobs with private sector buildings
this be extended to the private sector?
I'm glad you brought that up, because that's the long-term goal here, to
get to the larger set of buildings in the private sector. The mechanism is
called Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE. The law we passed in
Minnesota enables a public entity to use proceeds from revenue bonds to
finance energy improvements on commercial and industrial buildings that
are repaid by the energy savings as voluntary special assessments. It uses
energy saved and generated to finance the cost of installation similar to
public buildings with Executive Order 11-12.
There are municipalities that are interested and are exploring
implementation, but haven't signed up yet. The law was just recently
enacted in 2010. The conversation when it was passed was to have best
practice in place at the outset, but after working with the language we
can see the need to add some more tools. Expanding options for
implementation of PACE will help this type of financing the private
There has been discussion around the state about the potential to issue
revenue bonds to provide the upfront costs for energy improvements, but
interest rates are not attractive. PACE as a way of private/public
financing has enormous potential. When you put the public and private
building stock together you make it possible to dramatically increase the
jobs and economic impact.
$200 million in targeted savings for Minnesota Public Buildings, and 3,000
a number figure you can put on potential savings for the tax dollar
I don't know if I can give you an example for the whole state, but I can
give you examples: A large school district can save $1 million per year in
energy costs. You should be able to reduce energy consumption by up to 20
percent without any major change in quality of life.
We did project that we could do $200 million in projects over five years.
That was based on Pennsylvania's saving $600 million in a shorter
timeframe. We want to have an achievable goal. Another way to quantify it
is that we estimate our $200 million in projects could create 3,000 jobs.
about the energy savings and improvements, but just as important, it is
also about the jobs. There is talk in the executive order about what can
come from creating jobs through this effort. We have a major window and
HVAC manufacturers in the state. We have solar manufacturers, and a supply
chain, throughout the
It creates a jobs multiplier effect as these manufacturers ramp up to meet
the increased installation demand.
Now that the Governor's executive order has said the state will focus on
it, companies in this field are starting to look at
We think this is very important because it will save a lot of money, not
just now but for the next generation. While creating thousands of jobs.
The importance of these programs is that they are economic development
tools. That frame of reference is important, especially in these times.
The only way we will solve the budget problem is to grow the economy. With
an effort such as this, government can be used as a way to facilitate
will be information available through the state as the Office of
Guaranteed Savings Programs gears up. You can go to any of the ESCOs
websites, and they will have the essential features about what we're
talking about and actual case studies. Another website you may want to
look at is
http://pacenow.org/blog/ for current information about PACE financing.
Thanks Lynn and John, for an interesting and informative meeting.