A little-known statewide program to promote energy efficiency in large commercial and industrial buildings will be funded with $10 million in revenue bonds through the St. Paul Port Authority, a leader in energy savings programs.
The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday gave the green light to the authority to issue the bonds, which will finance loans to cities throughout the state for projects to boost efficiency or install renewable energy systems.
The program, called PACE — short for “property assessed clean energy” — allows property owners making improvements to repay the public funding they get through an assessment on their property tax bill.
Minnesota passed a PACE law in 2010, but so far only Edina has followed through with projects.
It’s a program similar to Trillion BTU, a loan program that the Port Authority created a few years ago with the state Commerce Department, Xcel Energy and the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Center for Energy and Environment to fund energy retrofits in large buildings for such things as heating and lighting.
Port Authority President Louis Jambois said that Trillion has extended about 30 loans to projects in both the metro area and outstate.
“The loans are being repaid, and the program is working extremely well,” he said.
Because of Trillion, the state asked the Port Authority to be the local delivery agency for PACE, a program that Jambois said can also be used for funding alternative energy systems such as solar or wind.
Neither the city of St. Paul nor the Port Authority will be liable for the bonds, which must be repaid within 20 years.