Hamilton County, Ohio
The goal of CESI’s engagement with Hamilton County was to make energy performance contracting (EPC) work in the municipal sector, with better penetration that it had historically achieved.
Hamilton County and CESI worked together to set aside $3M of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funding to use as incentives to facilitate EPC in county and municipal buildings across Hamilton County. EPC can be challenging for municipalities for several reasons:
- Unfamiliarity with the contracting and financing arrangements
- Problems of scale that prevent smaller municipalities from benefiting from EPC
- Lack of staff resources to oversee the EPC contractor selection process
CESI addressed these challenges by writing a custom RFP, overseeing the contractor selection process, and interviewing and selecting an ESCO. Our arrangement with Hamilton County allows municipalities in the County to “piggyback” on the EPC contract, overcoming the procurement problem that makes it difficult for smaller municipalities to access the resources of an ESCO. It also improves the financial attractiveness of EPC by providing incentives (a lower effective interest rate) that make the EPC contract more attractive to municipalities.
Once the EPC contract was in effect, CESI continued to support Hamilton County by acting as an owner's agent. This entails acting as an advocate for the county (who does not have previous experience dealing with ESCOs), reviewing contracts, assisting in negotiations with the ESCO, and performing additional QA/QC.
Hamilton County’s experience with performance contracting set an example for other counties in Ohio to use a similar model to overcome transaction costs and give building owners access the upfront capital needed to make deep retrofits and enjoy lower energy bills.