CLEVELAND — Smaller businesses, schools, churches, and clinics throughout Ohio could potentially cut tens of millions of dollars a year off their energy bills using a new financial tool launched by the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), efficiency-services financer Metrus Energy, and CalCEF, an organization focused on accelerating clean energy technologies.

The new Ohio Efficiency Resource Fund provides otherwise hard-to-get financing for small and medium-sized businesses to make energy-efficiency improvements, with no upfront costs and no risk. According to the organizations, this new approach bridges the funding gap that has stymied small- and mid-sized retrofit projects, which impacts thousands of buildings statewide.

Here’s how it works: The fund signs an Efficiency Services Agreement (ESA) for up to 10 years with a building owner, purchases the new equipment, and hires contractors to design, install, measure, and maintain the energy-saving improvements. As a result, the customer sees a reduction in its total utility bill, while the building becomes more functional, productive, and comfortable. The fund recoups its investment by billing customers for their actual realized efficiency gains. Since the useful life of the energy-efficiency equipment continues well beyond the life of the contract, customers continue to save for years to come.

The fund also will help property owners meet the state’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which calls for cutting electricity use 22.2 percent by 2025. The fund is accepting applications from facility owners who have energy efficiency retrofit projects costing less than $1 million.

“Like a utility sells electricity, the fund will sell efficiency as a service to building owners, delivering savings to local businesses,” said Bob Hinkle, president and CEO of Metrus Energy, the fund’s manager and creator of the Efficiency Services Agreement. “We are excited to partner with COSE to bring our efficiency finance know-how to this market.”

COSE plays the critical role of helping identify and match suitable projects with vetted local contractors. COSE is well-versed in this area, offering several energy programs for Ohio businesses from energy and lighting assessments to rebate and incentive programs.

“This strategy makes the most of smart financing and local expertise,” said Nicole Stika, senior director of energy services for COSE. “It’s also a great way to generate jobs. Ohio, by conservative estimates, already has more than 10,000 jobs tied to energy efficiency, but that’s just the start; there’s tremendous potential in this sector.”

“Our team is skilled at helping building owners identify and implement energy projects that pay for themselves through the utility bill savings they create,” said David Zehala, president of Columbus-based energy services company Plug Smart. “This program obliterates all the financial barriers associated with these projects making it easier for our clients to say yes.”

More information on the Ohio Efficiency Resource Fund is available here.

If you would like to partner with COSE as a contractor, call 216-592-2205 or email

For more information on COSE, visit

Publication date: 9/23/2013

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