One of the major customer groups Kele serves is the contracting arms of ESCOs (Energy Service Companies). We work with the great folks on the front lines in this industry everyday and we grow when they grow. We believe in the work they are doing (making buildings safer, healthier and more energy efficient for occupants and owners) and want to see them succeed. That being said, I’m always very interested in news I believe will be good for their industry and, in turn, good for Kele. I just came across an article today on Green Tech Media’s website (www.greentechmedia.com) that might prove to be great news.
One of the key issues ESCOs run up against when selling major commercial energy efficiency retrofits is financing. They know that energy savings are there and are even willing to put their necks on the line through PBCs (Performance Based Contracts) that guarantee the client a certain level of savings or they don’t get paid. However, PBCs can limit the scope of a retrofit project as they tend to focus on the “lowest hanging fruit” with regard to energy savings. These initial steps, while important, are typically smaller in scale and offer the most immediate payback while “deeper” retrofit items with larger but longer period paybacks can get tabled and tabled usually means filed away never to be seen again. Financing these “deep” retrofits can prove to be a conundrum.
Unlocking the riddle of how to standardize and accurately model the energy savings and securitize the resulting cash flow from lower utility bills has long been the quest of many proponents in our industry. In other words, how do we convince bankers that these energy savings are real and can produce stable profit streams (i.e., interest) from loans they provide to clients who want to renovate their buildings to save energy? The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has been tackling this issue head on for the last two years and may be on the path to “cracking that nut” with its Investor Confidence Project (ICP).
With its set of standard protocols for large, medium and multi-family sites, the ICP hopes to provide “the base minimum requirements for an investment quality analysis on how to maintain and validate lower energy use.” This is what the investors have long needed to feel safe in loaning their money to clients for a retrofit project and by providing this method of securitizaiton, ESCOs may find themselves with a lot more retrofit work on their hands. At which point, Kele will be ready and waiting to service those customers and “make it easy” to get the job done. Here’s to hoping we finally solve the energy efficiency financing issue and unlock the huge amount of savings that lies untapped in most commercial buildings out there.
For more information on this topic, here’s a link to the article I referenced above: Can EDF Bring Energy Efficiency to the Investor Market?