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Darien looks to join clean energy program

Photo by Megan Spicer

Town Administrator Karl Kilduff, from left, spoke to the Board of Selectman about the clean energy program, C-PACE, at their Monday, Jan. 6 meeting in Darien, Conn.

Darien will join other Connecticut municipalities in encouraging businesses to become more energy efficient, pending approval from the Representative Town Meeting.

"This is an interesting opportunity for municipalities to participate in the Clean Energy Finance Investment Authority," First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said at Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting.

The CEFIA, which was created following 2000 state legislation, directs resources toward funding green energy projects, lowers costs of green energy projects and reduces reliance on state grants, according to its website. It has funded more than $150 million in renewable energy projects, emerging technology investments and education and awareness programs statewide, according to CEFIA.

The town will participate in the clean energy program, C-PACE.

The program will use loan financing for clean energy improvements at commercial properties in town.

Commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners who wish to upgrade with clean energy projects would receive private capital up front for the entire project.

The loan is then repaid through an increase in property taxes for the commercial owner. A lien will be placed on the property so that if the property changes hands, the new owner is responsible for repaying the loan.

Darien would serve as the collection agency for the CEFIA. Financing is structured so that energy savings must more than offset the additional property tax assessment, according to C-PACE.

Selectman Gerald Nielsen, who owns Nielsen's Florist and Garden Shop, said the program is beneficial for business owners in town.

"You're getting positive cash flow from day one," Nielson said.

He added that some energy-efficient projects are not attractive because of the amount of time that it would take to reap the rewards.

Commercial property owners that wish to participate in the program must provide an energy audit or undergo a renewable energy system feasibility analysis.

Eleven projects already are underway with the help of C-PACE, including one at the shopping plaza at 542 Westport Ave. in Norwalk.

The property owners financed $172,000 of a $340,000 lighting project through C-PACE. According to C-PACE, the commercial owners will save an annual $17,500. Read Full Article 

As of January, 67 municipalities have opted to sign on with C-PACE, according to C-PACE.

"In my opinion there is no downside," Stevenson said. "There is no financial obligation. The net result is that it's good for property owners and beneficial to the environment."

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews

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