RI Program Financing Commercial Energy Efficiency Projects Expected To Expand

May 4, 2017

A program designed to finance projects to make commercial buildings more energy efficient is growing in Rhode Island. 

Thirteen more municipalities are working to participate in the Rhode Island Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program. Fourteen other municipalities have already joined since the program launched in May 2016.

The program helps connect commercial building owners with private lenders so owners can make their buildings more energy efficient. Methods include adding solar panels, lights with sensors, programmable thermostats, and replacing old boilers.

Michael Baer, senior advisor to the executive director at Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, which sponsors the program, said the program is beneficial because it adds more jobs to the state's clean energy sector.

“These are energy efficient contractors, they’re electricians, they’re renewable energy developers, so it’s a local job program," Baer said. 

Baer said the program also helps reduce air pollution and increases cash flow for businesses by lowering their operating costs.

Baer said what makes this program different than traditional commercial loans is that financing is secured by a municipal benefit assessment. That assessment allows longer-term financing options that last up to 25 years. Securing long-term financing helps to match the useful life of the building's improvements. The assessment is also transferable if the owner sells the building. 

The average cost of a project in the program is between $500,000 and $1 million, however the actual price depends on the size of the building. 

So far, two projects in Middletown have been completed. Baer said about 100 more projects are in process of being financed.