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Energy efficiency program picks up pace in Michigan

Lean and Green Michigan

A program that offers companies a zero-down, affordable way to finance energy efficiency programs is expanding.

PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy.  PACE loans for energy savings project are paid off through an extra payment on the company's property taxes.  The energy savings are greater each month than the extra loan payment, so it pays for itself from the beginning.

So far, the first seven months of 2018 has seen $14.5 million worth of PACE projects, says Lean and Green Michigan CEO Andy Levin, who runs PACE in Michigan. That's more than double the $6 million total in projects in the previous three years.

Levin says one of the new PACE loans will pay for an energy makeover for the Roberts Riverwalk Hotel in Detroit.The $4.8 million financing includes LED lights, solar parking lights, building envelope improvements, HVAC upgrades, and more.

Another project in Eaton County will replace older cooling units for Liquid Web Data Center. T

"The cooling needs of such places are huge," says Levin, "because they cannot have the computers overheat, they cannot go down for even a fraction of a second."

In order to work, taxing entities like cities or counties must agree to participate in PACE, because they are the ones collecting property taxes. Levin says the list of participating PACE cities and counties continues to grow. Many times, businesses have urged their counties or cities to join PACE, so they can do energy savings projects that otherwise they could not afford. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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