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.

DeLear, Matthiesen pitch solutions to West Lake woes on campaign trail

The Missouri Times logo The Missouri Times
September 9, 2016

Unconventional as it may seem, the race to replace the outgoing Rep. Bill Otto in the 70th House District may revolve around a landfill.

The West Lake Landfill has been a hot topic in the towns of Bridgeton, Maryland Heights and Spanish Village and other townships for years. Since 2010, a smoldering fire has threatened to come in contact with radioactive waste left over from the Manhattan Project. Some residents have reported health problems related to radiation poisoning, and the district’s state senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, has become known for her emotional appeals on the Senate floor demanding a change to oversight of the problem.

Byron DeLear at campaign kickoffNow, Democrat Byron DeLear, the CEO of Energy Equity Funding, LLC, and Republican Mark Matthiesen, a 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry, both believe they can best represent their district to face that looming threat.

Both candidates would like to see the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hand over their jurisdiction to the Army Corps of Engineers for more clean up, and both have been involved in the activism surrounding West Lake. Both of them recently answered questions and a forum regarding the topic.

For his part, DeLear has exhaustively researched and advocated for new oversight with his own articles, editorials and press appearances. When DeLear began considering his run for office, he also heard personally from Otto that the West Lake Landfill would be the most pressing issue in the next election for state representative.

DeLear says people are tired of the status quo.

"The overwhelming consensus is that people are concerned by what seems to be a callous form of government that is not addressing this problem and is not acting to clean up this radioactive waste," DeLear said.

Matthiesen said before he started his run for office, he had begun listening to and attending the rallies of Just Moms, the primary advocacy organization seeking a change of command over West Lake.

"There is nothing the EPA could do to regain the trust of this town," he said. "The federal government is the original creator of this problem, and they owe it to this area to fix the problem."

DeLear agrees that the EPA has not done enough for the area.

"In some sense, this site is being mismanaged in the same way many other EPA sites are being mismanaged around the country and the lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan comes to mind," he said. "The entire US benefitted from the national security agenda associated with the Manhattan project and St. Louis paid a pivotal role and has paid a heavy price."

Matthiesen with Eric GreitensMatthiesen also believes that state government has not done enough for the area. He wants the Missouri Department of Natural Resources should offer a buyout to the 92 households that live in Spanish Village, the municipality nearest the landfill (DNR has jurisdiction over the smoldering fire). He also argues current state government officials, like Gov. Jay Nixon, have not done enough to address the "potential catastrophe," and that Attorney General Chris Koster's lawsuit against Republic Services is political.

"It was too coincidental that [Koster] filed this lawsuit, and then announced his run for governor right after the other," Matthiesen said.

Koster initially filed his lawsuit in May of 2013.

The support may come down to predecessors. Otto has endorsed DeLear.

"Bill is very much liked in the district and his representation has been appreciated by the 70th District," DeLear said. "His support of our campaign is very important.

"Bill leaves big shoes to fill, but I have big feet."

However, Matthiesen counters that if people want their representative to matter in Jefferson City, they will vote for him.

"Without a Republican representing this district, Bridgeton is going to keep being ignored."

Candidates clash beyond West Lake
Beyond West Lake, each of the two candidates have other issues they want to emphasize. With a four-year-old son and living right on the border of the Parkway and Pattonville School Districts, Matthiesen has focused on education. He wants to ensure teachers can teach without needing to buy their own school supplies for classrooms. He also decries "mandates" from the federal government as intrusive.

"Now… we have restroom mandates that are going to affect our middle schools and high schools, and every time the federal government sticks a mandate in, it's always 'do as we say or we will withhold your funding' every single time," he said. "They're holding our schools hostage with their federal mandates which removes teachers' abilities to simply teach."

On education, DeLear says he would fight to fully fund the foundation formula.

However, DeLear wants to focus primarily on the economy. He believes his role as the CEO of a company that designs and administers clean-energy programs and provides consulting for residential and commercial property owners gives him a unique perspective on being a job creator. His work employs pipefitters, insulators and other people in the construction industry with an ecological flavor.

"This is kind of my passion, to find these innovative policies and issues to really help improve people's lives and gives people the dignity of a job," he says.

Right-to-Work and unions
On other issues, the two mostly fall on party lines. DeLear wants to expand Medicaid in Missouri, and he opposes union-opposed legislation like Right-to-Work and paycheck protection. Matthiesen supports Right-to-Work.

"It's going to protect the employees, it's not going to drive down wages and all of the lies the unions tell their union members are just wrong," he says.

Matthiesen is one of many potential legislators that has received money from anti-union megadonor David Humphreys. Of the $57,000 that Matthiesen has raised in his race, $50,000 comes from Humphries, who made the donation in late August. Humphries has most of that cash still on hand.

DeLear has taken $10,000 from CHIPP, a PAC run by the Carpenters' District Council of St. Louis. He currently has over $66,000 on hand and has raised a total of over $112,000.

All of those figures come from the Missouri Election Commission's 30 Day After Primary financial reports.

DeLear also did not have a primary, while Matthiesen did. The latter handily beat Andrew Purcell by 30 points.

Byron DeLear on This Week in Missouri Politics
This Week in Missouri Politics with Byron DeLear–ABC 30, 8/14/16
Panel discussions on 2016 Missouri governor's race and vote to renew 1/10 of a cent sales tax for state parks and soil & water conservation.

St. Louis PACE gives preliminary approval to three projects

The Missouri Times logo The Missouri Times
August 12, 2016

SAINT LOUIS – As the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) begins to take off in Missouri, St. Louis' Set the PACE Clean Energy Development Board (CEDB) is moving carefully to launch an expanded program. Set the PACE, the state's only clean energy development board sponsored by a major municipality, is currently reviewing projects. 

Otis Williams on the CEDB makes a point during discussions regarding  PACE projectThe meeting showed both the promise of the program and why prudent policy makers and administrators are putting an emphasis on proper structures and safeguards in the program before completing funding for projects.

"We are excited to see these projects brought to a place where we can offer preliminary approval," said board chairman Patrick Justis. "I am looking forward to seeing jobs created, and the positive environmental impacts."

The board met Wednesday to not only review three projects, but it hopes to include energy saving plans within their larger redevelopment plans and also set a timeline to finalize their application and future approval processes.

The CEDB and the administrator permitted the preliminary approvals of three projects based on representations from the developers that the projects were funded and a delay in CEDB approval could jeopardize their imminent closing.

"We have been developing new policies and procedures, standardizing our program documents which will be used for all future PACE projects both commercial and residential, updating our marketing materials, website, and completing a new Program Manual”, said Set the PACE program administrator Byron DeLear. “Our proposed date to begin the relaunch of commercial PACE, Sept. 15, 2016. The CEDB and the administrator permitted the preliminary approvals of three projects based on representations from the developers that the projects were funded and a delay in CEDB approval could jeopardize their imminent closing.”

Byron DeLear (middle) presents 3 PACE projects to CEDB“The interim approval process provides the developers comfort that final approval will occur if all of the conditions are met to establish the basis for CEDB findings required under the statute”, said DeLear

The projects which were given a preliminary yellow light to utilize the PACE program were:

  • 705 Olive a restoration project submitted by Amrit Gill which would include $8 million in PACE funding and create 200 jobs. 
  • 634 North Grand a redevelopment plan submitted by The Lawrence Group which would include $9.6 million in PACE funding and create 100 jobs. 
  • 300 North Front Street a restoration project submitted by Joseph Gillespie with 200 STL Holdings to include $20 million in PACE funding and create more than 200 jobs. 

What exactly is the PACE program?
The PACE statute was enacted in 2010 and provides political subdivisions the ability to appoint clean energy development boards like the one chaired by Justis in the City of St. Louis. The clean energy development boards then become their own independent political subdivisions. 

“The PACE program allows property owners to finance energy friendly improvements to their property by placing them on their property tax assessment. PACE allows for 100% financing and allows the payments to be spread out for up to 20 years. The assessments are covered as liens on the property”, said DeLear.

Optimistic but prudent formation of program standards
While the three properties were given a preliminary approvals from the board the actual resolutions the board passed had several conditions the applicants will have to meet before executing an assessment contract.

"We are going to be very cautious with our initial projects to ensure that our board sets standards that will be in place for a long time, and that approves several successful PACE projects," said Justis.

The PACE statute allowing for the board's formation gives a unique and very powerful ability to place project costs on a property tax bill. It also empowers the board to issue and sell bonds, defined as any note or similar instrument created by or on behalf of a clean energy development board. However, with those very unique and powerful abilities the statute imposes some specific responsibilities.

For example, the statute prohibits the board from entering into an assessment contract without making a finding that there are sufficient resources to complete the project and that the estimated economic benefit expected from the project during the financing period is equal to or greater than the cost of the project.

This means that it's the board's responsibility to collect all of the proper documentation, and legal opinions necessary to complete their due diligence to make sure the projects are financially sound, and that the structure of the transaction will comply with the statute. A CEDB is a political subdivision of the state that can sue or be sued.

The meeting showed both the program's potential to be a key tool in development and the caution that boards like St. Louis' Set the Pace have to employ to develop a sustainable and responsible program. St. Louis is the state's only city within a county and has an A1 bond rating from Moody's.

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.

Byron DeLear on This Week in Missouri Politics
This Week in Missouri Politics with Byron DeLear–ABC 30, 2/14/16

Panel discusses the possibilty of of Missouri joining the National Popular Vote Compact and the presidential primary elections on both sides.

State Rep. Bill Otto endorses Byron DeLear for State Representative; believes is 'right man for the job'

The Missouri Times logo

The Missouri Times
February 9, 2016
By Travis Zimpfer

BRIDGETON, Mo. – Missouri State Representative Bill Otto will announce his endorsement of candidate Byron DeLear for the seat he currently holds in the State House of Representatives this Wednesday at the Grand Opera House in St. Charles, MO. at 6pm. Otto is running for U.S Congress in Missouri's 2nd Congressional District to oppose Rep. Ann Wagner. Otto and DeLear have worked alongside the community action group Just Moms STL and local residents in the City of Bridgeton to call attention to the radioactive West Lake Landfill and underground fire burning in an adjacent landfill. The underground fire, which threatens to incinerate the Manhattan Project-era nuclear waste, has propelled this environmental issue into the national media.

Bill Otto and Byron DeLear"Byron has worked hard to learn the various nuances regarding the radiologically impacted material at the landfills," said Otto. "It is vital that we have a representative for the 70th [District] that understands the need to make this the number one issue for the local community and region. I believe Byron DeLear is the man for the job. If Byron and I are successful, we will have an opportunity to have every level of government surrounding the landfills working for a safe and permanent solution."

Otto, a Navy veteran and former air traffic controller, has emphasized the need for balance in Congress and increasing opportunities for working class families that are essential for the vitality of our nation.

DeLear, a clean-energy executive, has also been vocal about the need for prioritized funding for our schools, Medicaid expansion, and finding creative ways to stimulate economic development through innovative legislation and infrastructure investment.

"Five years ago I helped pass clean-energy legislation in Jefferson City that is now creating good-paying, American jobs—and these jobs can't be outsourced," stated DeLear. "There is absolutely a constructive role for public-private partnership, particularly with revenue neutral initiatives like PACE clean-energy. This is a law that helps folks save on their energy bills, is good for the environment, and in the coming years will attract tens of millions in infrastructure investment for Missouri."

DeLear's campaign event this Wednesday is being hosted by local leaders in clean energy and labor.

Operating Engineers 513 hosts Byron DeLear, candidate for state rep, 70th District

Labor Tribune logoSt. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune
Jan. 20, 2016

BRIDGETON, MO – When Byron DeLear spoke to a "town hall" gathering in Bridgeton recently, the candidate for state representative of the 70th District had an intelligent logic about him that drew the attention of labor, education, community safety and health advocates.

DeLear believes solutions to today's problems can mean jobs – with the right legislation and the right representatives.

Operating Engineers Local 513 hosted DeLear because they say he is a worker-friendly candidate who will do the right thing for labor. Random voters who attended believe in DeLear because he listens and cares about their plight, whether it is in schools or with the nearby toxic landfill.

John Bachinski and Byron DeLearDeLear, chairman and CEO of Energy Equity Funding, started his campaign for state representative cutting right to the chase, connecting the idea of jobs to the disastrous conditions at the Bridgeton landfill. The green energy-minded business executive has knowledge, education and environmental concern long under his belt, and says if voters can put him in office, he'll push for what's right for working men and women and what's right for the health of a community being threatened by 45,000 tons of nuclear wast (equal to the steel and concrete of the St. Louis Arch) buried in that West Lake Landfill.

Although there had been no Democratic candidates filing to run against DeLear at press time, he anticipates competition during the 2016 primary election.

The 70th District is currently represented by Democrat Bill Otto, who is running for congress against Congresswoman Ann Wagner.

"In 2007-2008, I saw how the great recession hammered working families; the economic crash ravaged our workforce. My friend lost his job, and I began to think about ways in which we could turn things around," DeLear said.

So, five years ago, he helped build a coalition to get a clean- energy bill passed in Jefferson City. The law was based on wording from Berkeley California. It was a clean energy environmental bill, he said.

"But I recognized that this clean energy bill wasn't just an environmental bill. It was a job creating bill and an economic development initiative that wouldn't cost the state a dime. And that's how we got the bill passed.

"It creates jobs, saves folks on the energy bills, and is good for the environment. I'm happy to report that we've just closed on the second largest clean-energy project of its type in the nation in 2015 this past summer putting electricians, insulators, and pipefitters to work," DeLear said.

"Bottom line? Good policy can create good-paying American jobs — union jobs. This is my passion, advancing legislation that makes people's lives better."

Working for Working Families
Operating Engineers' Organizer John Bachinski said the majority of the Missouri GOP controlled legislature tried last year to remove all the funding from Missouri's budget for the Missouri Department of Labor's investigators who are responsible for investigating Prevailing Wage fraud on Federal and State funded projects.

He said DeLear will stand up for workers and push for heavier prevailing wage standards. DeLear says as state representative, he will make sure there is funding for the Missouri Department of Labor.

"I will represent workers and their rights," DeLear said, noting that in Wisconsin, a recently imposed right-to-work state, prevailing wage is under attack and now it is now law to allow employers to force employees to work with no guaranteed days off, virtually eliminating the weekend.

"Now I know we all like cheese, but when I'm in Jeff City I'll make sure Missouri does not turn into a Wisconsin."

Smoldering Landfill
DeLear also highlighted one of the most pressing problems facing his district: the existence of a subsurface smoldering landfill fire at the West Lake landfill that is slowly spreading illegally dumped nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project–the secret U.S. military program created in 1942 to develop the atomic bomb. The landfill is not designed to safely house nuclear waste. It is unlined, in a floodplain and close to heavily populated areas.

DeLear says that problem should become a priority for the state.

"The families living near the West Lake Landfill deserve a permanent solution that keeps their children safe," he said. "I will work tirelessly until that situation is resolved."

DeLear to launch campaign for state representative Thursday

The Missouri Times logo The Missouri Times
August 12, 2015

BRIDGETON, Mo. – Byron DeLear, the chairman and CEO of Energy Equity Funding, will start his campaign for state representative Thursday night in Bridgeton. The green energy-minded business executive will be running for the Democratic nomination in the 70th district.

The 70th is currently represented by Democrat Bill Otto, who is running for congress against Congresswoman Ann Wagner.

"We need to restore balance to Missouri's General Assembly, and I will fight to ensure the citizens of the 70th district and the state have every opportunity to succeed," he said in a release. "We need to repair crumbling roads and bridges, properly fund our children's education, and help our neighbors access health care with Medicaid expansion."

Byron DeLear imageDeLear also highlighted one of the most pressing problems facing his district: the existence of a subsurface smoldering landfill fire at the West Lake landfill that is slowly spreading to nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project. DeLear says that problem should become a priority for the state.

"The families living near the West Lake Landfill deserve a permanent solution that keeps their children safe," he said. "I will work tirelessly until that situation is resolved."

DeLear already has the endorsement of state Rep. Mary Nichols, D-Maryland Heights, as well as from former U.S. representative Russ Carnahan and state Sen. Jill Schupp.

"Byron is the best candidate, has the support of many in the community, and will be a great leader in Jefferson City," Nichols said in a release. "Democrats throughout the region should be proud to support his campaign with the resources needed to retain this seat in the legislature. He's the right man for the job."

DeLear formerly ran for congress twice.

The campaign will kick off at Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at Sports Cafe in Bridgeton.

Otto and Howard Abrams also have active candidate committees for the seat. No Republicans have declared.

Missouri Athletic Club announces $2.4M energy-efficiency retrofit with Set the PACE St. Louis

MAC retrofit project posterNews Release
City of St. Louis
July 14, 2015

Largest project in the nation among all PACE programs for 2015 with energy savings projected at more than $200,000 per year.

In a morning press conference, the Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) announced a $2.4 million energy-efficiency retrofit of their iconic downtown St. Louis landmark building, using PACE financing through Set the PACE St. Louis.

Property improvements on the iconic landmark will include heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, state-of-the-art energy management controls, and other high-efficiency measures which are projected to generate more than $200,000 in annual energy savings.

"The City's stock in old buildings cannot keep up with demands for energy efficiency without some major retrofits, which can be expensive," said Mayor Francis Slay (top image). "We created Set the PACE St. Louis to ease the burden and encourage savings—both financially and environmentally—for business owners to use."

Press conference on July 14, 2015 announcing MAC retrofit using PACE financing"There really aren't any downsides with energy performance upgrades," said Byron DeLear (middle left) of Energy Equity Funding, program administrator for Set the PACE St. Louis. "We've had 12 successful projects, including an award-winning solar installation at Four Muddy Paws, a project recognized by PACE Now, a national PACE advocacy organization, as being the fastest to be completed following program launch."

"We are also very excited that our program is helping to support good-paying, union jobs such as pipefitters, insulation contractors, and electricians," said DeLear. "Examples are Kaemmerlen Electric and Corrigan Co. who have both started work on the MAC retrofit. Kaemmerlen Electric is a registered contractor with Set the PACE St. Louis and has been a union shop with IBEW since 1947."

"There are challenges in maintaining a building of this age," said MAC President Brent Kaniecki (middle right). "The PACE program has made it possible for our Club to lead on this issue by serving as a model for other local businesses to make energy-efficient upgrades of their own."

"Our downtown clubhouse was the first building west of the Mississippi to have air conditioning, and it has those original, custom-built air handlers," said Wally Smith, general manager of the MAC. "When we were made aware that we could pay for upgrading our systems with energy savings, it really was a 'no-brainer' for us. Set the PACE St. Louis fulfilled a need that's going to ensure the preservation of the City landmark for generations to come."

"We became a Set the PACE St. Louis 'Program Ambassador' because we see the PACE concept as a great way to deploy energy-savings performance services to the private sector," said Scott Hardwick, contracting solutions manager for Trane, which is providing project management and energy-efficient systems and services for the MAC.

Set the PACE St. Louis supports an "open-finance model," which allows local lenders, banks, and other funding sources to participate in project financing. A local funding source—Jefferson Bank and Trust—is providing project financing for the MAC, and as a St. Louis-based institution, has the added benefit of keeping the flow of capital within the community.

The cornerstone of the Missouri Athletic Club Downtown Clubhouse was dedicated in a ceremony in 1915 with its doors opening for business the following year. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the property is a rare example of a building that has never changed its primary purpose or use for 100 years.

Click here to download full news release, including additional information on the Missouri Athletic Club, Energy Equity Funding and TRANE, Inc.

States meet to amend U.S. Constitution, bypass federal government

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
December 17, 2014
by Byron DeLear

Six states passed resolutions in 2014 to completely circumvent Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution. But here's the shocker: Three states have Republican-controlled legislatures, and the other three are run by Democrats in both chambers.

In one year, Vermont, California and Illinois passed legislation for an amendments convention to reverse the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in order to "restore free and fair elections." At the same time, Alaska, Georgia and Florida have called for an amendments convention to "limit the size and scope of the federal government."

The common ground shared by these six resolutions is that they all reference a provision contained in Article V of the U.S. Constitution which provides for the convening of a "convention to propose amendments" should two-thirds of the states apply. State legislators from around the country met in Washington this month to discuss the rules and operating procedures of a convention, once it is called for by 34 states.

Capitol Dome with Christmas tree lights, Dec, 2014At the Naval Heritage Center in Washington, D.C., the Assembly of State Legislatures held its third organizational meeting, executed articles of incorporation, debated by-laws, and elected two co-presidents. Missouri state Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, and Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Chris Kapenga will share the gavel for the new group.

ASL is the brainchild of Co-President Rep. Kapenga, who was attracted to the Article V method of assembling state lawmakers with the express goal of convening our nation's first amendments convention, or "Article V Convention."

"The states have a clear authority and jurisdiction to amend the U.S. Constitution," said Rep. Kapenga in opening remarks. "I don't know if you noticed the pictures…how many saw that the (Capitol Dome) is under construction? I just thought it was kind of ironic because we're here to fix Washington."

ASL Co-President Sen. Holsman remarked, "It's a great civic exercise for us to consider the tools left to us by our Founding Fathers. They understood that we were going to have some unforeseen challenges in the future that the existing document wasn't going to be prepared to deal with; so they put Article V in there in the event that we would need to exercise it. I believe, and I believe that many of you also agree, that time has come."

Sen. Holsman, a progressive Democrat, made clear his primary motivation is to pass an amendment for significant campaign finance reform, like reversing Citizens United. He also injected some levity at the fact of being elected co-president of an organization whose membership, to date, has been largely Republican.

"Hanging out with 75 Republicans in Washington, D.C., is (politically) not good for my image —but the fact of the matter is that if our Founding Fathers were willing to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to make a better country, then I'm willing to risk an election."

In the past, when states got close, like with the balanced budget amendment push in the 1980s, Congress considered legislation to articulate a set process for the convention. But with congressional dysfunction at an all-time high and congressional approval at an all-time low, the ASL state legislators are not counting on Congress to take action on anything and instead are taking matters into their own hands.

"The reason Congress has been so glaringly silent on Article V is because they recognize this as a constitutional means of limiting their power," commented state Rep. Brett Hildabrand of Kansas. "The federal government has never been keen on limiting their power, so I think they don't want to draw any unnecessary attention to what we're doing here."

Some constitutional scholars have claimed Congress must eventually count the applications and thus "approve" the convention at some point, though the Founders who wrote the Constitution would disagree.

In Federalist 85, Alexander Hamilton states in no uncertain terms that Congress has no discretion in the matter of the convention.

Once the required number of states apply, it is universally recognized that Congress is duty-bound to call the convention, as the issue is "peremptory." The Constitutional Convention of 1787 added the convention process to Article V explicitly as path around Congress in case it ever became oppressive, tyrannical, or corrupt.

"We the people are so upset at the inability and ineffectiveness of a Congress that's busy dialing for dollars and not really serving anybody," remarked Illinois state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora. "People can see that state legislators are working on their behalf—they don't see that out of Congress."

With more American citizens increasingly frustrated by federal corruption and largesse, ASL is giving voice to growing dissatisfaction with Washington and opening up a new front for reform.

One thing is clear from the legislators at the meeting: The states are going to do this with or without Congress in order to change things one way or another.

"Americans don't deserve what they're getting out of Congress, which, by the way, is nothing," said Rep. Chapa LaVia, summarizing the sentiments of many. "Our kids deserve better and their kids deserve better."

Byron DeLear is a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention and supports this "time-capsule gift from our Founders" to fix the many challenges, particularly of a structural nature, that ail our republic. He can be reached at:

Who coined 'United States of America'? Mystery might have intriguing answer.

The Christian Science Monitor
July 4, 2013
by Byron DeLear

Historians have long tried to pinpoint exactly when the name 'United States of America' was first used and by whom. A new find suggests the man might have been George Washington himself.

As if George Washington hasn’t been credited enough with laying the foundation stones of the American republic, a new discovery might put one more feather in his cap. Our leading Founding Father could have been author of the country's name.

The identity of who coined the name “United States of America” has eluded historians for years. Online sources vary greatly, erroneously crediting Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and others.

Painting of Washington's inaugurationBut a letter written by Washington’s aide-de-camp on Jan. 2, 1776, discovered this past Memorial Day, suggests that Washington might have been one of the first people—if not the first person—to utter the words "United States of America."

Previously, William Safire and a bevy of Oxford and American researchers essentially concluded in 1998 that Thomas Jefferson was the originator. Jefferson wrote “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” in the header of his “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence sometime on or after June 11, 1776. Then last summer, the Monitor reported the discovery of an earlier citation in an anonymous essay appearing in the Virginia Gazette, dated April 6, 1776.

This latest find comes in a letter that Stephen Moylan, Esq., wrote to Col. Joseph Reed from the Continental Army Headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., during the Siege of Boston. The two men lived with Washington in Cambridge, with Reed serving as Washington’s favorite military secretary and Moylan fulfilling the role during Reed’s absence.

The letter touched on the colonies' desire to enlist Europe's help in their revolution—most likely in procuring much-needed armaments and gunpowder. The shortage of powder was so desperate that, at one point, orders were issued to use wooden harpoons instead of guns. Moylan wrote that he wished to carry the “full and ample powers from the United States of America” to Europe to support the revolutionary enterprise.

The letter was written at a time when the American colonies were increasingly taking on the trappings of a new, independent nation. As historian Kevin Philips summarizes, “Despite lack of international legal recognition, the Continental Congress functioned as a de facto war government. By the end of 1775, the United Colonies had also created an army (June 15), a navy (October 13), and even a marine corps (November 10).”

When Congress appointed Washington commander-in-chief and dispatched him to Boston, Washington called his men “the Troops of the United Provinces of North America.” Washington sought to turn these troops into a fighting force capable of engaging the most powerful military of the age, and at different times, Reed and Moylan worked side by side with him, issuing orders, writing letters, and sitting in council.

On Christmas Day 1775, just eight days before his "USA" letter, Moylan inscribed on the flap of a document: “On the service of the United Colonies.” Yet on Jan. 2 he wrote of the “full and ample powers from the United States of America.”

What could have caused this shift?

There are two significant events that occurred between Christmas Day 1775, and Jan. 2, 1776, that could have precipitated the shift in tone.

The first was King George III's speech to Parliament, which arrived in the hands of the Continental Army on New Year’s Day. In it, George III condemns the rebellion in the colonies, calling his American subjects “deluded” and their leaders “traitorous.” He accuses the conspirators as having designs for an “independent empire,” and lays out his plan to expand British land and naval forces in America and seek the assistance of foreign steel to crush the rebellion.

For many Americans, this was the last straw. It was their Rubicon—all-out war was now inevitable.

The second event, also on New Year’s Day, was the unfurling of what is known as the first flag of America, the Grand Union flag, which featured 13 characteristic red-and-white stripes with the British Union Jack in the canton. The Grand Union flag was raised by Washington on Boston's Prospect Hill in a ceremony to commemorate the inauguration of the Continental Army of '76—the reformed army that Washington had worked tirelessly to build. It must have been a heady occasion, and perhaps the phrase “United States of America” was sounded that day.

What is known is that Washington understood and practiced the virtue of restraint – he was careful and cautious. His political steps and maneuvers were well thought out, and although notions of independence were likely discussed frequently among the Founders, many of these men were reticent to articulate as much in print. It was something you could lose your head over.

Washington later said he had given up any hope for peace by November 1775 after learning of the king’s proclamation for suppressing rebellion. But the king’s latest speech went even further and was actually inflammatory—so much so, the continental soldiers burned it on arrival. For all intents and purposes, the British king accused the Americans of already declaring independence, as Moylan writes to Reed, “Look at the King’s speech—it is enclosed in this, or in the General’s letter to you … —will they [Congress] not declare what his Most Gracious Majesty insists on they have already done?”

This letter from Washington to Reed mentioned by Moylan oozes with subtlety and sarcasm. For the calculating Washington, it suggests the veiled language of a man telling his most trusted and perceptive aide that all-out war is coming and, perhaps, that it could only lead to a declaration of independence, which happened seven months later.

“We are at length favoured with a sight of his Majesty’s most gracious speech. Breathing sentiments of tenderness and compassion for his deluded American subjects; the echo has not yet come to hand, but we know what it must be….”

In Moylan's Jan. 2 letter, maybe "United States of America" was a slip of the pen, so to speak—the idea of a new nation that, until then, could only be whispered. Nevertheless, it is concrete evidence that the phrase “United States of America” was written, and most likely spoken, in a home in Cambridge converted to a war office at the dawning of America’s revolutionary year. Whether Washington, Moylan, or even Reed should be credited is somewhat beside the point. In many matters, all three spoke with one voice—the voice of the commander-in-chief of what would become the United States of America.