OSU-area hotel making $16M in energy efficiency upgrades with PACE financing

The Marriott Hotel & Residence Inn on Olentangy River Road near The Ohio State University main campus will get $16.3 million in energy efficiency upgrades funded through Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing, Columbus Business First reports. The financing, which was the largest publicly announced C-PACE transaction in the United States in 2018 (see our December 14, 2018 blog post), will fund “a comprehensive building envelope upgrade, lighting improvements and other efficiency measures,” according to the article. The upgrades “are expected to save significant energy costs for the hotel in coming years.” For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Project Finance

Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grants new tools to municipalities

Local governments have “new statutory tools to affordably confront the expensive infrastructure challenges of stormwater, wastewater and other water resource improvement goals,” since the President signed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA), McMahon DeGulis LLP reports. The WIIA adds a new section to the Clean Water Act incorporating US EPA’s 2012 Integrated Planning Framework into law. Additionally, it “allows a local government to incorporate its Integrated Plan into NPDES permits,” usually a more flexible route than being subjected to a federal consent decree. The WIIA also requires local affordability to be considered in developing CWA compliance schedules. These changes make Integrated Plans “an essential tool for local governments to manage their Clean Water Act compliance and infrastructure renewal.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Federal Updates

Laketran becomes member of Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance

Public transit agency Laketran has joined the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance, a group “seeking a public policy solution that will allow the Perry Nuclear Power Plant to avoid its decommissioning (see our November 14, 2018 blog post),” The News-Herald reports. Laketran CEO Ben Capelle said, “[e]lectricity is the future energy source for all ground transportation, including buses,” noting that the federal government “is prioritizing electric bus infrastructure to reduce emissions and lower the cost of providing transit service,” according to the article. Fueling buses with nuclear-based power “allows the entire energy pipeline to be emissions-free.” Laketran, the “first transit system in the state to deploy zero-emissions electric vehicles,” plans to electrify its entire Local Route system. For more, read the full article

Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Twinsburg explores downtown redevelopment district to spur jobs and economic development

City officials in Twinsburg propose creating a downtown redevelopment district (DRD) that could generate about $2.3 million over a 10-year period to “rehabilitate historic buildings, create jobs and encourage economic development,” MyTownNEO reports. A 2016 state legislative act “allows a municipality to exempt up to 70 percent of the increased value of parcels in the DRD from property taxes, and requires parcel owners to make service payments,” according to the article. Twinsburg Director of Planning and Community Development Larry Finch said a 10-acre area around the historic First Congregational Church that includes older residences and commercial structures “would be the most likely area to create a DRD” because it “has great potential for redevelopment.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Project Finance, State Updates

UC Clermont College now 100% powered by wind energy

A three-year energy agreement with American Electric Power means the University of Cincinnati Clermont College is “now 100 percent wind-powered,” according to an article on the school’s website. The agreement, which began in October 2018, “covers energy provided for UC Clermont College, UC Blue Ash and the university’s satellite sites,” the article reports. The move “will save the equivalent in CO2 emissions of 3,683 homes’ electricity use for one year,” and is projected to save the college approximately $25,000 annually. For more, read the full article

Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Summit County DFA explores plans for new financing tool

A new source of financing could be available for future Akron real estate development projects, if the Summit County Development Finance Authority (DFA) proceeds with plans for a community development financial institution (CDFI), Crain’s Cleveland reports. City and county officials “are encouraging” the DFA to pursue either creating or partnering with a CDFI, which would provide the organization with “access to more sources of capital, with fewer restrictions on where it could use that capital,” according to the article. DFA President Chris Burnham said CDFIs, which are supported by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund within the U.S. Treasury Department, “can do the legwork for banks in terms of finding loan demand and credit-worthy borrowers in distressed and struggling communities.” For more, read the full article

Economic Development, Project Finance, State Updates

Court dismisses class action against Cleveland Public Power

The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas dismissed a class action lawsuit against Cleveland Public Power (CPP), holding that certain utility charges totaling more than $188 million were not unlawful. The crux of the lawsuit was Environmental and Ecological Adjustment (EEA) charges that CCP charged customers in addition to base rates. Unlike base rates, EEA charges do not need approval from city council. The EEA charges were collected by CPP from 1984 into 2013. And although CPP stopped assessing these fees in 2013, it began charging customers again in 2017. The plaintiffs claimed that CPP was not allowed to charge the EEA charges under the terms of CPP’s electric service contract with its customers, because these charges did not relate to compliance with environmental laws or regulations.             

To examine the plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim, the court analyzed the City of Cleveland’s ordinances, which incorporate the terms of the electric service contract. After analyzing the ordinances establishing the EEA, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments. The court found that the language of the ordinances (and, thus, the electric service contract) did not limit the scope of EEA charges to costs related to environmental laws or regulations.                                                        

The court’s decision is likely to be appealed, but it closes the first chapter in a contentious legal battle regarding CPP’s utility charges. The decision is also noteworthy due to the court’s in-depth analysis of the applicable standard of review for Ohio courts that are asked to consider the lawfulness of municipal utilities’ rates.

For more, read the full decision.

Energy Efficiency, Miscellaneous, State Updates

Two Columbus projects awarded Historic Preservation Tax Credits

The Ohio Development Services Agency recently granted Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to The Hayden in downtown Columbus and Brad DeHays’ Trolley Barn on the Near East Side of Columbus, Columbus Underground reports. The $19M Hayden project, a 13-story building at 16 E. Broad Street and a 4-story building at 20 E. Broad Street that dates to 1869, received a total tax credit of $1,940,000. Brad DeHays’ Trolley Barn, a trio of buildings that will be converted into office space, a residential building and a coffee shop, received a total of $361,000 in tax credits. Bricker & Eckler LLP served as PACE counsel for The Hayden. For more, read the full article

Economic Development, Financial Incentives, State Updates

AEP’s planned Highland County solar farms a welcome boost for southern Ohio

Development, business and construction leaders across Appalachia rallied in support at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO)’s first public hearing on AEP’s plan to build two solar farms in Highland County, Columbus Business First reports. The 300-megawatt (MW) Highland Solar Farm, if completed, would be the largest in Ohio. AEP says constructing that farm and the 100-MW Willowbrook Solar Farm “would bring $24 million in new state tax revenue and $6.7 million in local tax revenue,” while construction “would support 4,000 jobs, including 113 permanent manufacturing jobs in the solar supply chain,” according to the article. The Columbus Dispatch reports “witnesses from economic-development and environmental groups . . . testified about the need for jobs in a region of the state that has been struggling economically, and the value of moving away from fossil fuels to renewable sources.” For more, read the full Columbus Business First and Columbus Dispatch articles. 

Economic Development, Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Summary of 2018 PACE transactions in Ohio

2018 PACE Financing in Ohio

Economic Development, State Updates
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