Shedding light on major energy savings at Blue Line Travel Center

Property Assessed Clean Energy

Larry and Deb Potter own Blue Line Travel Center in Worthington, MN. For a long time they thought about saving energy with lighting upgrades, but they could not find the right financing to get it done. When they attended a seminar hosted by the Rural Minnesota Energy Board on their new Property-Assessed Clean Energy (or PACE) program, it shed new light on their goals.

With the financing received through RMEB’s PACE program, as well as rebates from Worthington Public Utilities and a grant through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the Potters have made the needed updates to the canopy and other outdoor lighting at the truck stop—as well as indoor lighting in a recently completed second project—and are now looking forward to reaping the energy savings.

Outdoor LED Lighting Upgrades

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to the buildings of commercial property owners in cities and counties that allow it. Energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing.

An energy audit performed by Certified Energy Manager (CEM) Richard Otten outlined several projects that would result in energy savings for the business. One of the more significant undertakings involved replacing all the outdoor lighting with LEDfixtures. This included the canopy, perimeter, wall, and reader board lighting. Total estimated costs for these improvements were $73,942.

According to the energy audit, these improvements would result in more than $14,000 in annual energy savings. The first few months following project completion showed actual energy savings of approximately $2,000 per month. The savings in energy will more than pay for the annual assessment payment of $9,044. It is believed the lifespan of the LED lights installed is approximately 12.45 years.

In addition to PACE financing, Blue Line also applied and was approved for a USDA REAP grant. They also submitted and received utility rebates from Worthington Public Utilities in the amount of $12,571. With these successes under their belts, the Potters are now considering interior improvements, as well.

Project Snapshot:

  • Location: Blue Line Travel Center in Worthington, MN – Nobles County
  • Description: Updated exterior lighting to LEDs
  • Useful Life: 12.45 years
  • PACE Loan Term: 9 years
  • Project Costs: $73,942
  • Annual Energy Savings: 209,520 kWh
  • Savings Per Year: $14,112 for 12.45 years
  • Annual Payments: $9,044 for 9 years
  • Annual Net Savings: $5,068 for 9 years
  • Total Net Savings: $85,253* over 12.45 years

*Total Net Savings is calculated by multiplying the useful life of the improvement by the estimated annual savings, then subtracting the cost for materials, installation, and interest over the term of the assessment.

Indoor LED Lighting Upgrades

This project covers interior LED improvements identified within their energy audit. Total estimated costs for these improvements are $37,062.81 however they are expecting a rebate from Bright Energy Solutions for $3,723.

“This project improved the lighting for staff and customers while reducing the energy costs for the building owner,” says Robin Weis, Economic Development Director of the Southwest Regional Development Commission. “The business owner decided to convert interior lighting to LEDs because he saw such a reduced energy bill from his exterior LED lighting project completed just months before.”

Project Snapshot:

  • Location: Blue Line Travel Center in Worthington, MN – Nobles County
  • Description: Updated interior lighting to LEDs
  • Useful Life: 12.45 years
  • PACE Loan Term: 9 years – 4% interest
  • Project Costs: $37,063
  • Annual Energy Savings: 114,558 kWh and/or 165 kW
  • Savings Per Year: $8,368 for 12.45 years
  • Annual Payments: $3,335 for 9 years
  • Annual Net Savings: $5,032 for 9 years
  • Total Net Savings: $ 45,296 over loan term + $8,368 over remaining useful life of 3.45 years = 74,166

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