Set the PACE St. Louis Pushes Energy Efficient Efforts

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KDNL) - Go green, save some "green". That's the goal for the City of St. Louis and people who own businesses.

With the help of a national clean-energy financing program PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) business owners are finding that using money from locally known Set the PACE St. Louis makes their businesses more energy efficient while helping their bottom line.

One of the program's first projects was Jeff Jensen's pet market, Four Muddy Paws in Lafayette Square. Jensen said that he has always lived with one goal in mind when it comes to running his two pet stores.

"Always to be green," Jensen said, "to give back to the earth and be conscious of being good stewards of our resources and so one of our goals was to add solar to one of our buildings. We were told about the PACE program and we were intrigued because what that did for us was to bring the financing with the bank and the solar installers and the city together in one group."

The program was created with the goal to help business and home owners save money by using less power.

Jensen said his store uses a lot of energy especially when it houses large freezers and a big pet washroom. In order to help offset the intensive energy use, about thirty five solar panels on his roof kick into gear.

"It's covering twenty percent of our energy cost which is covered just by the sun," Jensen said.

The program is now taking on a bigger job. City officials said that old buildings are tough to heat and cool cheaply so landmarks like the Missouri Athletic Club is about to upgrade its facility to the tune of $2.4 million.

"We are able to borrow money and accelerate that process," said CFO, Larry Absheer, "and our preservation foundation will over the next 10 to 15 years, service that debt and pay for the loan that we took out to finance all of these upgrades."

It is the largest PACE-financed project in the country this year. Property improvements include heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, state-of-the-art energy management controls, and other high-efficiency measures, which are projected to generate more than $200,000 in annual energy savings.

"A lot of deferred maintenance takes place in a building where there is constantly demands throughout for different needs for your funds," said facility manager, Skip Bowders, "and if capital monies are not set aside then unfortunately you get to a point of diminishing returns and in some cases you have a heavy expense of replacing or you are stuck with a building that's leaking and you are losing money through energy loss."

The program supports an "open-finance model," which allows local lenders, banks, and other funding sources to participate in project financing. A local funding source -- Jefferson Bank and Trust -- is providing project financing for the MAC, and as a St. Louis-based institution, has the added benefit of keeping the flow of capital within the community.

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