Fairborn joins clean energy program, hopes to attract new jobs

Fairborn City offices on Hebble Avenue.
Fairborn City offices on Hebble Avenue.

Fairborn plans to participate in a clean energy program, hoping it will bring new businesses into the city.

The city declared its intent to participate in the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program at its city council meeting on Monday night.

PACE is essentially a loan program that finances up to 100% of energy efficient construction or remodeling for commercial and industrial property owners, said Assistant City Manager Mike Gebhart.

“This is just another tool in the economic development tool box,” Gebhart said.

Gebhart said the city has discussed a program like this for more than a year.

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Fairborn doesn’t yet have a specific project in mind, Gebhart said. But the way state law is written, a municipality must pass a resolution like this in order to establish the program. So now that this resolution has passed, a business could approach the city and ask to take advantage of the energy efficient benefits, Gebhart said.

There are already businesses interested in taking advantage of the clean energy incentive, Gebhart said.

How does it work?

To use PACE, a Special Improvement District must be created.

Gebhart emphasized that residential taxpayers will not pay anything extra if they are in this special district.

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Commercial businesses opt to be part of the special district, Gebhart said. A business would opt to be in to the district if it wanted to make renewable energy or energy-saving upgrades or if it wanted to build an energy efficient building.

Once a project is identified, the ESID and PACE can be established. An energy consultant works with a property owner to conduct an energy audit on an existing structure or on the site of a structure to be built. The audit determines if it would be fiscally responsible for the property owner or new business to take advantage of the PACE funding. The audit also determines what energy upgrades might work for a given property.

“You need to make sure it makes financial sense on all sides,” said Cherise Schell, Fairborn’s assistant director of economic development.

The Ohio Port Authority approves the loan. Gebhart said Fairborn would then get the loan from the Greene County Port Authority or the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority.