PACE financing firm reports surge in new business

DETROIT — Lean & Green Michigan has reported a spike in new and larger products under Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Levin Energy Partners LLC created and runs Lean & Green Michigan, which serves as PACE administrator for 34 units of local government representing about two-thirds of Michigan’s population.

Under PACE financing, energy efficiency projects can be financed through a special property tax assessment. Since the loan has the security of a tax bill, banks are more willing to extend long-term loans for energy efficiency project — up to 20 years, vs. a standard energy efficiency loan of 3 to 5 years. That allows the financing of energy efficiency projects with longer paybacks. And the debt passes on to a new owner in the event of the sale of the property, just like a tax assessment.

The company said Lean & Green had organized about $6 million in PACE projects in 2015, 2016 and 2017. But this year, it has already closed about $14.5 million in PACE projects — more than twice as much as the previous three years combined.

Levin also reported a growing list of players in the Michigan PACE market, including the lender who financed the latest two deals, San Marcos, Calif.-based Structured Finance Associates LLC. Also new to PACE are the contracting partners involved in the latest two deals, Keen Technical Solutions of Traverse City and PACE Energy Services of Troy.

Projects announced this week included a $3.7 million upgrade to more efficient air conditioners by Hillcorp Properties LLC for a building in Eaton County that houses a data center of Liquid Web. The project will be financed over 20 years and is projected to save $10.2 million worth of energy over that time. Keen Technical Solutions was the contractor.

“In Eaton County, we’ve found that our PACE District has become an important economic stimulus, helping businesses make cost effective upgrades for energy efficiency,” said Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson said. “As Chairperson for the District, I am pleased to see Liquid Web, one of Eaton County’s leading businesses, take advantage of this economic development tool. We are proud to be one of Michigan’s leading counties in promoting clean energy for the business sector.”

Also getting an energy upgrade is the Roberts Riverwalk Hotel, a historic boutique hotel along the Detroit River east of downtown.

PACE Energy Services’ energy upgrade for the hotel includes LED lighting, solar parking lights, building envelope improvements, HVAC upgrades, and more. The $4.8 million project was financed over 20 years, and is projected to save $15.6 million over that time.

The Roberts Riverwalk Hotel project marks a continuation of Wayne County’s PACE leadership under County Executive Warren Evans. The county has closed more projects (four) and financed a higher volume (more than $8.6 million) than any other local government in Michigan. This project also marks the first in the state for an African-American-owned business.

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