Study shows wind and solar falling below conventional generation costs

Financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard Ltd.’s annual studies comparing costs of various generation technologies shows “in some scenarios, alternative energy costs have decreased to . . . at or below the marginal cost of conventional generation,” nawindpower.com reports. George Bilicic, vice chairman and global Head of Lazard’s Power, Energy & Infrastructure Group, said, “we have reached an inflection point where, in some cases, it is more cost-effective to build and operate new alternative energy projects than to maintain existing conventional generation plants,” the article reports. According to Bilicic, “storage remains the key to solving the problem of intermittency.” Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Storage Analysis “shows significant cost declines across most energy storage use cases and technologies.” For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy

Sirna and Sons solar installation generates 35% of company’s electric usage

Ravenna-based Sirna and Sons Produce has installed 1,331 solar panels on the roof of their Route 88 facility, enough to generate 35% of the electricity needed to power the 115,000 square feet of warehouse and office space, the Record-Courier reports. Tom Sirna, president of the fourth-generation wholesale food distributor, said the 30-percent federal tax credit lowered the payback period of the project from 10 to 12 years to 6 years. Without that, Sirna said, “the company probably wouldn’t have gone solar,” according to the article. The 452.5-kilowatt system “should cut carbon emissions by 650 tons every year,” which not only increases the company’s marketability, but aligns with Sirna’s goals to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Financial Incentives, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Largest C-PACE deal in U.S. for 2018: $16.3M for Columbus project

Petros PACE Finance, LLC announced “the closing of a $16.3 million Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) transaction in Columbus, Ohio with UPH Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Continental Hospitality Group and Concord Hospitality Enterprises,” according to a Business Insider press release. The deal, which “will fund eligible upgrades to a 354-room dual branded Marriott Hotel & Residence Inn” near The Ohio State University, is “the largest publicly-announced C-PACE deal in the country to date in 2018,” according to the release. Continental secured the C-PACE financing through the Columbus Regional Energy Special Improvement District PACE program; Bricker & Eckler LLP served as PACE counsel for the project. For more, read the full press release.

Economic Development, Financial Incentives, Project Finance, State Updates

Warren County lays groundwork for CRA to draw “top companies”

Commissioners in Warren County voted to establish a tax abatement zone on large parcels of undeveloped land in order to help draw “top companies shopping for new places to bring expansions and quality jobs,” the Dayton Daily News reports. Commissioner Dave Young “expressed reluctance about setting up the community investment area [CRA]” before the vote but agreed “the county needed the economic development tool in its toolbox,” according to the article. Projects to bring industrial or commercial developments to the CRA along Interstate 75 between Cincinnati and Dayton could receive tax abatements “of up to 75 percent for 15 years” and would likely be offered in conjunction with a joint economic development district that would enable Turtlecreek Township to collect income tax.  For more, read the full article

Economic Development, Financial Incentives, State Updates

Better energy polices could help bring $25B and 20K jobs to Ohio

New energy technologies “could lead to $25 billion” in investment and 20,000 new jobs for Ohio, according to a Powering Ohio report from Synapse Energy Economics and Case Western Reserve University’s Great Lakes Energy Institute, Columbus Business First reports. The report says “[t]he changing transportation industry could bring major jobs and investment to Ohio if the state has an energy policy in place to promote it,” according to the article. Recommendations include “nine points of policy improvement, including growing electric vehicles and clean energy workforce and attracting more manufacturing, enhancing the grid and smart transportation infrastructure.” The Smart Columbus program “has been a major leg up for this,” but a larger statewide strategy for energy policy “remains a key sticking point.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Environmental, Smart Cities, State Updates

Lorain Port Authority new 5-year plan includes name change and business financing

A “slight name change” reflects the goal of the Lorain Port Authority’s new five-year strategic plan: to continue to do what the agency does well and expand its role in business financing for the area, The Morning Journal reports. The plan has three visions that reflect the new name, the Lorain Port & Finance Authority. The visions include the Port establishing itself “as the community and economic development leader in Lorain,” and utilizing “the finance capacity allowed under Ohio law to development finance programming and investment,” according to the article. The plan “was developed over 10 months with the Council of Development Finance Agencies, or CDFA, a Columbus-based nonprofit group.” Port Executive Director Tom Brown said the “Port has touched the surface of business financing and will do more of that with the help of the CDFA.” For more, read the full article

Economic Development, State Updates

Exelon files complaint and injunction motions against FirstEnergy Solutions in bankruptcy case

On November 26, 2018, Exelon Generation Company, LLC (Exelon) filed a complaint in U.S. bankruptcy court for the Northern District of Ohio for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, along with a motion for preliminary injunction, against FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), to enforce a purchase agreement for the sale of FES' retail electric business to Exelon. Exelon, a Fortune 100 energy provider, alleges that FES is in material breach of the Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) “through its failure to use commercially reasonable efforts to obtain a Sale Order by November 6, 2018.” The alleged breach comes after Exelon was the only successful bidder, agreeing to buy bankrupt FES’ retail electric assets for $140 million in cash plus other consideration. Exelon has also asked the court to grant an emergency motion due to a fast approaching end-of-year deadline. 

Renewable Energy

Amazon HQ2 bid process “built Columbus’ muscles” to compete for big projects

The City of Columbus made it to the top 20 finalists for Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters project (see our January 18, 2018 blog post), and while Amazon chose other cities in the end, the bid process brought its own “wins” for central Ohio, Columbus Business First reports. Local “government agencies, businesses and colleges amped up their collaborative tradition” and “built up knowledge and tactics being applied right now in talks with other major employers, several officials said,” according to the article. An editorial in The Columbus Dispatch said the “Columbus region already won just by being among the elite top 20 finalists out of 238 cities to bid on the project,” receiving “global attention” from media reports about Amazon’s search. The Dispatch article also noted Amazon has “announced $2 billion in Ohio projects since 2011.”  For more, read the full Columbus Business First and Columbus Dispatch articles. 

Economic Development, State Updates

Fortune 500 company could bring $147M project to Dayton area

An unidentified Fortune 500 manufacturing company is “considering multiple Dayton-area locations for a $147 million project” that would create at least 80 new jobs, the Dayton Business Journal reports. The company is looking at Dayton, Union and Brookville for the massive project proposal, called “Project Nora,” to construct “a 300,000-square-foot facility that could expand to 1.1 million square feet over time,” according to the article. Each city is planning to offer a 15-year tax abatement as well as proposing “a $500,000 Economic Development/Government Equity (ED/GE) grant from the county” to help offset development costs. Because the project is “highly competitive,” incentives “and a move-in ready site are key to ensuring it is located in Montgomery County.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Financial Incentives, State Updates

Forbes magazine says C-PACE financing is “Poised for Breakout”

Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing may still be “a well-kept secret,” but Forbes magazine reports that the “recent sale of a $103 million bond backed by C-PACE assets to institutional investors” may raise the program’s profile and lead to a breakout. Greg Saunders, CEO of CleanFund Commercial PACE Capital, the lender that originated the bond offering, “expects Wall Street’s acceptance of the deal to bring more attention to the tool and, ultimately, more securitizations,” according to the article. Saunders said C-PACE financing “has topped $700 million since inception and will surpass $1 billion by next year” as property owners increasingly find C-PACE “to be a superior long-term option for major upgrades.” For more, read the full article

Economic Development, Project Finance
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