Creating a comprehensive, robust, and progressive energy portfolio for America is critical to help lead our nation out of recession and into a prosperous future.

We have to begin to focus our national resources on this necessary transformation — the rest of the world is not waiting. China has announced it will invest 5 trillion yuan (nearly $740 billion) over the next 10 years into renewable energy projects, positioning itself as the global clean energy leader. Squandering America’s wealth on distracting nation-building phantoms in Iraq and Afghanistan, while we are left behind in regard to clean energy, is not smart, nor wise. After all, these technological innovations in energy will comprise the future bulwark of how we power our socities, civilization, and world. It’s time to direct some of our amazing capacity to create dangerous things, toward building a more sustainable, cleaner and safer civilization.

Last June, I was invited by Roger Walker, Chair of REGFORM, to speak at the 2010 Midwest Energy & Climate Policy Conference on a key aspect concerning the advancement of our energy sector, namely, energy efficiency and renewable energy property improvements for homes, offices and buildings. Through that event I was interviewed by Jeffrey Tomich of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covering some pushback from Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac on PACE financing. States and municipalities are suing Fannie and Freddie over their disapproval of PACE having a ‘senior lien status’ above the home’s primary mortgage. Recently, I’ve been asked to make my presentation from the energy conference available. Here it is in an abridged form per Examiner’s posting guidelines. ~BD

“Leveraging Energy-Equity for the Midwestern marketplace”

Hello, my name’s Byron DeLear, Chair of Energy Equity Funding, LLC. I want to thank Roger Walker and REGFORM for giving us the opportunity to share some exciting new programs and projects with the goal of increasing energy efficiency in Missouri, creating thousands of new jobs–jobs that are “insulated” from outsourcing–and heading us the down the road towards the destination of transforming fundamentally the way we use energy in America. Smarter, cleaner, more sustainable.

A dear friend of mine, Glenn, a UAW worker, lost his job as the economy tanked. In the last 36 months, tens of thousands of folks got laid off in Missouri as Ford and Chrysler plants shut down, other local storefronts downsized or closed up shop for good. Nationally, millions of Americans have lost their jobs. The building and construction trades have fared particularly worse than other sectors. For example, in Missouri, total jobs lost was nearly 5%, while the construction trades lost four times as much, 20%.

This panel is about financing clean energy projects, leveraging public and private resources to overcome barriers to these investments, reducing Green House Gas emissions, and creating jobs. For me, clean energy, energy efficiency, renewables, is not just about investment and job creation, but rather, bringing and building an entirely new industry to the Midwest and America. As this new economic landscape shifts rapidly, a myriad of overlapping standards, programs, grants and legislation have sometimes made it confusing for the small business entrepreneur who is just trying to get his green venture off the ground.

Last year, the Missouri Association of Accredited Energy Professionals (MAAEP) formed, one of the country’s first statewide trade associations for energy auditors and home performance contractors. MAAEP started organizing small business owners across the state that make up the majority of vendors in this new industry. In collaboration with individual Realtors, MAAEP has developed a market driven model for promoting energy efficiency, in addition to distinguishing and singling out those properties that have been improved by providing a energy efficient home certification.

It was clear, that in the interests of protecting industry best standards, practices, and providing consumer satisfaction, an “auditor-centric” approach was the best way to guarantee results and maximize return on investment for the homeowner and the community as a whole.

The innovative clean energy funding mechanism, Property Assessed Clean Energy or “PACE”, has been recently named one of Harvard Business Review’s ten breakthrough ideas of 2010 and Scientific American’s top 20 ideas that can ‘change the world’. PACE is a new funding model that allows local governments to partner with property owners to achieve savings on energy costs through energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Passing PACE legislation in Missouri was no small feat, and its success can be attributed to the efforts of a broad coalition of business and environmental stakeholders. In other states, PACE didn’t pass due to opposition from industry sectors that, in Missouri, backed it and helped push the legislation through.

Currently, in the Midwest, three states have passed PACE enabling legislation: Oklahoma, Illinois and Missouri.

Big Picture on Energy Efficiency for Missouri

• Job Creation and Economic Stimulus.

– 10,000-15,000 green jobs in 10-15 year period for Missouri that can’t be outsourced. More than 5 Billion Dollars of Economic Activity with only 35% Market Penetration (approx. 840,000 residential properties improved over 10-15 year period, 2000 Census figures averaging $9K per energy retrofit / renewable energy contract.)

– 90% of materials used in energy efficiency retrofits manufactured in the USA

– Increasing energy independence acts as local economic stimulus by saving money on energy importation

Gateway to a New Economy

The Midwest has played a pivotal role for many national initiatives over the years. The Lewis and Clark Expedition to discover a means to traverse our continent and reach the Pacific Ocean, or some of the first pavement for Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway was laid in St. Charles. The diversification of America’s energy portfolio is just as “game-changing” as were these major milestones in our nation’s history. Missouri’s unique market characteristics and inexpensive coal generated power demand a robust and elegant clean energy solution. A clean energy business model that works here could very well show the way for other states to build a sound, sustainable, market-friendly approach, toward propelling the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries into the mainstream. The Show Me State could help show the way as a gateway to a new economy.

In the next ten years, the idea of an energy audit and retrofit on your home could very well become as commonplace as a safety and emissions test for your car. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are about jobs, and domestically manufactured products like weather-strip, insulation, solar panels and caulking. Estimates fly around about the size of this national “revolution of retrofits”, from 1 trillion dollars of economic activity to a recent figure we heard from the Department of Energy roadshow in Kansas City, a gargantuan 6 trillion dollars coast-to-coast. Stimulus
funds for weatherization programs or the pending Home Star “Cash for Caulkers”, will only last for a couple of years. Properly run, PACE programs promise to be the sound and sustainable business model that will carry the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors into the years ahead.