The Local Energy Efficiency Partnership (LEEP) Act has been re-introduced this year, and is in a much stronger position to pass.
LEEP is a funding mechanism that local governments can establish to empower commercial building owners to use private finance to improve building efficiency, paying for the upgrades on the building owner’s tax ticket. Currently, 30 states have similar laws in place.
Here’s how it works. The process begins with an investment-grade energy audit by a specialized company called an Energy Service Company (ESCO) that has expertise in providing, and guaranteeing, energy savings.
After getting the audit, the ESCO identifies the changes to the building that will pay for themselves through energy savings.
For example, an ESCO may recommend upgrading specific lighting fixtures, plugging air leaks or upgrading a furnace. The building owner picks which upgrades it wants to make, based on how long it will take for the upgrades to pay for themselves, and sends the audit, with an application, to the local government.
The government turns the application into a bond for sale on the bond market. The bonds are backed by the energy savings, not by the government itself. Once a private buyer is found for the bonds, the changes can be made and repaid by the building owner with a monthly payment lower than the monthly savings.
Last year around this time, we were still working out the details of the bill with experts at the WVU College of Law. This year we have hit the ground running with SB 370, thanks to our Senate sponsors, Senators Walters (R, Putnam) and Miller (D, Greenbrier).
The LEEP Act has been submitted by Delegates Hanshaw (R, Clay) and Fleischauer (D, Monongalia), and will likely be introduced any day now.
We are hoping to get the Senate bill start moving and be considered by the Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee. Please send an email to the committee members and ask them that you support the LEEP Act. Here are some things to add to your email:
- The LEEP Act helps businesses stay in the state by reducing costs and improving their building value.
- The LEEP Act makes it easier for private capital to help create local construction jobs making building improvements.
- As an opt-in program for local governments, the LEEP Act gives local governments the choice as to whether to use this tool for improving their building stock.
Here are the email addresses of the committee members, including Chairman Greg Boso, to let them know you support SB 370 and would like to see it approved by the Energy, Industry, and Mining Committee![ezcol_1half]firstname.lastname@example.org