Westmoreland County’s commissioners created a program that officials said will help private businesses and industrial property owners borrow money to pay for energy saving programs.
Launched by the state in 2018, the nationwide Property Assessed Clean Energy Program enables the county to act as a middleman for private owners to take out and repay loans specifically raised to purchase energy efficient and clean energy devices.
“We expect it to breathe new life into older buildings when they are converted into efficient, desirable workplaces. That will add real estate value and make Westmoreland an even better place to do business, ”said Commissioner Sean Kertes.
The program is not available for residential properties.
It gives builders of existing or new commercial, industrial and agricultural properties easier access to low-interest, long-term personal loans for projects such as overall building insulation, the installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems and energy-efficient lighting, according to district planning director Jason Rigone.
These upgrades are expected to result in energy cost savings for building owners, he said.
Rigone said the program will make it easier to secure these personal loans. The loan repayments are collected by the district treasurer, who in turn repays the private financial institutions.
The county’s involvement means energy project loans could be tied to the buildings, not the facility securing the funds.
“This is an opportunity to access new resources to make energy improvements,” Rigone said.
Westmoreland will be the 14th ward running the program, joining Allegheny, Erie and Washington in western Pennsylvania.
The commissioners appointed the PP&L Sustainable Energy Fund to administer the program. This agency is paid for through fees charged by the private property owners.
“Not only does it help property owners finance renovations, but it also benefits our communities by upgrading existing properties, including those that are vacant or derelict, to modern workplaces. In addition, it will stimulate economic activity through the renovation and construction works, ”said Commissioner Doug Chew.
Commissioner Gina Cerilli Thrasher said the program will bring long-term community benefits.
“We’re helping real estate owners make investments that they might not otherwise have been able to fund,” said Thrasher.
Rich Cholodofsky is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected], or on Twitter.