Local MN Chamber Helps Businesses Save on Clean Energy

Matt Kramer, President of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota, knows what his member businesses need—and how to help them find it:

“Our members are looking for ways to improve their operational efficiency and bottom line,” said Kramer. “And financing clean energy is often a critical part of the equation, empowering business to make improvements that drive real savings.”

That is why the St. Paul Area Chamber, in collaboration with five other Minnesota organizations, recently hosted a popular event, called The Business of Saving Energy, in which it shared how businesses are improving their bottom line with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The event, which demonstrated how businesses in eligible cities may access long-term, low-cost financing and rebates for up to 100% of project costs, with the potential for positive cash-flow, was organized in partnership with the Great Plains Institute, Metro CERT, Saint Paul Port Authority, White Bear Avenue Business Association, and Xcel Energy.

“Minnesota is fortunate to have a wealth of resources available to help businesses save energy—including rebates, financing, or other low or no-cost assistance programs,” said Amir Nadav, Program Manager at the Great Plains Institute. “Our goal is to help businesses navigate the clean energy opportunities and identify the ones that meet their needs.”

Minnesota is one of approximately 30 states that have passed legislation empowering communities to establish PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, financing programs. These programs help businesses take advantage of energy savings by providing low-cost financing on upfront installation costs.

Specifically, PACE financing programs allow property owners to install renewable energy or energy efficiency projects that are paid for over their functional life through a property tax assessment. PACE financing programs also offer businesses with a positive cash flow on energy retrofits, lower energy bills, and reduced vulnerability to volatile energy prices.

Among the highlights of the event:

  • Jill Curran, Executive Director of the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, moderated a panel on local business clean energy investments.
  • Wellington Management, a commercial real estate firm that owns and manages more than 90 properties, highlighted their recent rooftop solar investment, funded in part through PACE financing.
  • The St. Paul Port Authority, which has financed over $33.5 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, briefed businesses on the suite of programs they administer, including PACE and the Trillion BTU Energy Efficiency Loan Program.
  • Speakers from two St. Paul suburbs, Oakdale and Maplewood, reported on the outcomes of a project with the Great Plains Institute to identify ways to support more local business energy-saving projects.