LEEP into savings: State's new Local Energy Efficiency Program ready for action

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Leaping into action

With the knowledge that energy can account for as much as 10 percent of a local government’s annual operating budget, the Minnesota Department of Commerce recently launched the Local Energy Efficiency Program (LEEP). LEEP has a straightforward aim: Assist local governments with completing energy audits.
 

Why save energy?

“Because improving the energy efficiency of city halls, schools and courthouses is a cost-effective strategy to address facility maintenance needs, help stimulate the local economy, create jobs, expand markets for energy-efficient technologies, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Alex Cecchini, LEEP Program Manager. Local governments can also lead by example through improving energy efficiency in their own operations, motivating the private sector and other stakeholders to follow suit. “Completing an energy audit is the best first step to making these targets a reality,” added Cecchini.
 

What does LEEP offer?

  • LEEP will evaluate local government facilities for potential energy efficiency opportunities and direct the local government toward the best strategies to complete the improvements.
  • Moreover, LEEP has pre-qualified a list of 10 contractors that are on hand to get the project done.
  • Technical assistance from the Department of Commerce will guide local governments on evaluating the technical and financial feasibility of the energy audit, as well as direct local governments to available financing options such as the Energy Savings Partnership leasing program operated by the St. Paul Port Authority that offers low interest rates and financing viability for smaller projects (under $1 million) due to a $2 million loan loss reserve provided by the Department of Commerce.
     

How does LEEP compare to GESP?

LEEP is similar to the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP) in that both can be used by local governments to complete energy audits; however, GESP provides guidance for larger projects through project completion while LEEP aids local governments through completion of the energy audit. Here’s quick comparison table:

 

GESP

LEEP

Eligibility State agencies, higher education, local governments, K-12 schools Local governments, K-12 schools
Type State assisted energy savings performance contracting program with guaranteed savings State assisted energy study using design-bid-build for implementation
Project Size $500,000 minimum. No maximum Typically between $50,000 and $500,000
Term Up to 25 years Up to 15 years (using St. Paul Port Authority’s lease program)
Interest Rate Dependent upon financing instrument – eligible for lease purchase financing Dependent upon financing instrument – eligible for lease purchase financing


What’s been done so far?

GESP has over a dozen state and local entities in the pipeline—totaling nearly 300 buildings and 9 million square feet. Five projects have contracted for construction. Retrofits include LED lighting installation, building automation improvements, HVAC replacements, water conservation measures, and solar energy installations. These projects are projected to save nearly $900,000 and more than 40 billion BTUs of energy annually. LEEP has similar ambitions. With a clear need and assistance at the ready, LEEP is poised for success.
 

Ready to get started? Contact one of the gents below or visit the Commerce website to learn more.

 
Local Energy Efficiency Program
Alex Cecchini
651-539-1707
alex.cecchini@state.mn.us

Guaranteed Energy Savings Program
Peter Berger
651-539-1850
peter.berger@state.mn.us

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Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission