Missouri Leads Midwest in Clean-Energy Job Growth; Expansion Set to Continue

The Missouri Times logo The Missouri Times
May 11, 2016
By Byron DeLear
and Tim Murray

One brilliant economic success story for Missouri is the fact that we are currently enjoying the highest clean-energy job growth in the Midwest. According to a recent report based on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, 52,000 Missourians work in clean-energy with 13,000 workers added in the past year alone. The growth rate of 8.3% is the highest among all 12 states in the region. Good news is, due to the launch of new clean-energy programs and the expansion of existing ones in our state, job opportunities in this sector will continue to increase at an accelerated pace.

“Bottom line is folks are saving money on their energy bills and this is the real driver of growth,” said Tom Appelbaum of Energy Equity Funding, LLC. Energy Equity Funding administers several clean-energy programs in the Midwest including “Set the PACE St. Louis” which provides 100% up-front financing for energy improvements for property owners. “The financing under the program is paid back as a voluntary special assessment and is available at longer terms than traditional loans,” added Appelbaum. “For participating property owners, this creates a net-positive cash-flow due to lower utility costs and other savings.”

Energy-efficiency is the largest portion of Missouri’s clean-energy workforce at nearly three-quarters of all jobs in the state. 45% of the workforce is located in the metropolitan St. Louis region.

One of the most successful projects in the nation for 2015 was the $2.4mm comprehensive energy-retrofit on the Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Downtown Clubhouse. The iconic city landmark was the first building to have air conditioning west of Mississippi, and post-upgrade, will save more than $200,000 its first year.  By year twenty, the MAC’s new facilities will be generating $362,000 a year in savings. 

“This piece makes great sense for us,” stated MAC General Manager Wally Smith. “These systems will be working for 20 or 30 years down the road and set the club up for the future—and without any out-of-pocket costs for us? It’s really a no-brainer.”

On the MAC project, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) teamed-up with general contractor Trane and worked 800 man hours supplied by four electrical contractors: Kaemmerlen Electric, Aschinger Electric, Electric Mechanics, and Temperature Control Solutions.

“We absolutely recognize the environmental, economic, and social value of clean-energy and are excited to work on touchstone projects like the MAC,” said Doug Martin of the National Electrical Contractors Association.  “Our affiliated contractors provided the electrical portion for the energy efficient upgrades to the Heating and Air Conditioning System along with the lighting retrofit.  Savings are generated in a number of ways including utilizing programmable set points on thermostats, providing ‘demand’ lighting, and load shedding. 

Clean-energy property retrofits create good-paying, American jobs that can’t be outsourced. Occupations such as pipefitters, electricians, insulators, and laborers all play a role in completing these projects. Additionally, 90% of the products associated with energy-efficiency, such as insulation, caulking, and weather stripping, are made in the U.S.A.

The IBEW, the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, and the National Electrical Contractors Association have developed some of the most advanced green-jobs training programs and facilities in the United States, and have invested more than $140 million in renewable energy training. Since 1941, IBEW training centers have been educating electricians on all modern electrical needs.  They possess state-of-the-art green training equipment, including solar arrays, wind turbines, and programmable logic controllers.

The St. Louis Building and Construction Trades, of which the IBEW is a member, has recently signed a St. Louis Clean-Energy Workforce Agreement for the City and County which is unique in the United States.

“We will coordinate our exclusive BUD (Building Union Diversity) program with the City and County’s PACE programs to include specific educational materials and training associated with developing careers in clean-energy,” said Jeff Aboussie, Secretary for the St. Louis Building and Construction Trades. “The BUD program is only one way in which Set the PACE St. Louis and the County’s new PACE program will be focusing on community inclusion—providing opportunities for minorities and women as well as existing journeymen to become apprentices with participating unions to learn the skills allowing them to employable for the rest of their lives.”

Community workforce agreements are a fundamental part of revitalization and renewal efforts for our region—and when coupled with the transformative movement occurring in clean-energy—revenue neutral initiatives like PACE-financing can actually begin to address larger issues such as climate pollution while also advancing economic interests. In the upcoming national contest for the Presidency, climate change will undoubtedly play a critical role for voters as the likely Democratic and Republican nominees couldn’t offer a more stark contrast. America, as the prime industrial mover, has a moral responsibility to lead on the shift toward clean-energy; and, in an ironic twist, Missouri, in terms of growth, is actually at the head of the pack.

Byron DeLear is a candidate for Missouri State Representative and program administrator for clean-energy programs, including PACE programs in Missouri and Arkansas.

Tim Murray is a Business Representative for the IBEW in the St. Louis jurisdiction and an officer on the IBEW Local 1 Executive Board.

Missouri is Most-Improved State for Energy Efficiency

Public News Service logoPublic News Service
October 3, 2016

Missouri's PACE programs are getting some credit for the state's progress in moving toward green energy and power savings.

ST. LOUIS – Missouri has made some big strides in saving electricity. The latest report card from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks Missouri 32nd among the states, up 12 spots from 2015.

Kristy Manning, director of the Missouri Department of Energy, said as part of the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan, states are encouraged to select energy efficiency as a way to meet goals set by the federal government.

"With just some thoughtful planning, it's not hard for a state to start making some real progress and advancement in these areas," said Manning. "But it does require some strategic planning and thoughtfulness in how to approach it, and how to do it most meaningfully."

Missouri was praised for its Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE). It allows property owners to apply for financing to make energy-saving upgrades, like adding insulation, storm windows and doors, LED lighting and upgrades to heating and cooling systems. The money is paid back over 20 years.

Current legislative candidate Byron DeLear administers "Set the Pace St. Louis" and started the St. Louis County PACE Program. He explained that PACE works by keeping the monthly payments low enough that they're offset by money saved on the retrofits.

DeLear cited the Missouri Athletic Club as an example—which, last year, was the second-largest PACE project in the nation.

"The Missouri Athletic Club was the first building west of the Mississippi to have air conditioning; it still had the original air handlers in it," said DeLear. "On the first year after the energy-efficiency measures were performed on the property, the Missouri Athletic Club is saving $205,000."

Carolyn Amparan, chair of the Sierra Club's Osage Chapter based in Columbia, Mo., noted that her city has made improvements to save energy in business and residential construction. She thinks that needs to happen statewide.

"Getting more municipalities and counties to adopt the codes would be an excellent step forward," said Amparan. "And then, the utilities in the state could do more as well. Some of them are really exceptional, like ours here in Columbia, but others have not really invested in energy-efficiency programs as much as they could."

The report card notes Missouri is the most-improved state in the nation this year in terms of energy efficiency.

IBEW/NECA delivering energy efficient upgrades to historic Missouri Athletic Club

St. Louis Labor Tribune logo

St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune
October 2, 2015

Kaemmerlen Electric managing electrical work for $2.4 Million project

IBEW/NECA are teaming up to help make the historic Missouri Athletic Club more energy efficient with an innovative way of funding the improvements.

The $2.4 million project is being financed through Set the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) St. Louis and is the largest of its kind in the nation this year.

St. Louis-based Kaemmerlen Electric is managing the electrical upgrades. Kaemmerlen is part of the Electrical Connection, a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local One and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractor Association.

PACE provides financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades, which can be spread out for up to 20 years, so annual loan payments are offset by energy savings.

According to Byron DeLear of Energy Equity Funding LLC, which administers the Set the PACE St. Louis program, MAC’s cost savings from the improvements would begin at about $200,000 annually and could total $362,000 by the 20th year. Set the PACE St. Louis was launched in 2013.

IBEW logoImprovements
“The skills of the IBEW/NECA team give the MAC the best opportunity to reap the full cost saving benefits of the PACE program,” said DeLear. “This includes greater long-term property value.” The improvements to the MAC will include energy management controls, HVAC upgrades, high-efficiency lighting, and new on-site steam generation.

The MAC’s downtown location at 405 Washington was built in 1916 and is now is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “Given the number of historic and aging structures in St. Louis, we believe the PACE program is a great asset to the city of St. Louis’ sustainability plan and something our highly skilled workforce can deliver outstanding results,” said Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs.

The MAC’s downtown location at 405 Washington was built in 1916 and is now is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “Given the number of historic and aging structures in St. Louis, we believe the PACE program is a great asset to the city of St. Louis’ sustainability plan and something our highly skilled workforce can deliver outstanding results,” said Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs.

Clearing Barriers
“One of the biggest barriers to energy efficient improvements is upfront financing,” added Doug Martin, executive vice president, St. Louis Chapter, NECA. “PACE provides a sensible way to spread out costs and make best use of the financing by engaging our NECA electrical contractors’ proficiencies in engineering and managing energy efficient upgrades, including renewable energy.”

Nationally, commercial PACE programs are found in more than 30 states, where 330 property owners have used more than $123 million in PACE financing to upgrade their buildings, according to PACENow, a national PACE advocacy organization.

“We continue to seek out progressive partners, such as the PACE program, to leverage the skills and safety of our IBEW/NECA team to deliver the best value in new construction and renovations,” said Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection.

Members of the Electrical Connection provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world. Find a contractor near you in the Electrical Connection contractor database.