October/November 2016 DIRECTOR’S NOTE

It’s Time for Companies to be Strategic About Energy, an article in Harvard Business Review by Andrew Winston, summarizes a path for managing energy more strategically at all levels of a business. Capitalizing on energy as a strategic advantage is important given that “[a] company’s approach to energy and carbon emissions now directly impacts its cost structure, its risk profile and resilience, and its brand value with customers, employees, and communities”. Wisconsin PACE, the new property assessed clean energy program, where local lenders finance 100 percent of commercial energy efficiency, solar and water conservation upgrades through a special municipal charge, will help businesses capitalize on energy.

PACE enables businesses to make costly equipment upgrades with no upfront cost and often, to realize monthly savings in energy costs beyond the cost of paying back the loan. PACE programs also increase property values and create local jobs.  Nine Wisconsin counties now have adopted PACE, a uniform program statewide that has a PACE Commission administered by a third party, with little to no cost or risk to municipalities.

Nationally, $292 million in commercial PACE loans have been issued creating 3,500 jobs according to PACENation. More commonly, PACE is used to upgrade houses. Nationally, more than $2.2 billion has been invested in 104,000 homes through residential PACE financing, reports PACENation. This generated 22,000 energy sector jobs. These impacts on local economies are notable and now, can be realized in Wisconsin.

Sherrie Gruder