Anoka County is partnering with the St. Paul Port Authority on a program to finance clean energy projects for businesses in the county.

Last month the County Board unanimously approved a resolution designating the port authority to implement and administer the Property Assessed Clean Energy (MinnPACE) program.

Under the program, the port authority will provide financing to businesses in Anoka County for the acquisition and construction or installation of energy-efficient and conservation improvements to their properties.

Businesses will pay for the projects through special assessments placed on their annual property tax statement by Anoka County, according to Karen Skepper, county intergovernmental and community relations director.

The county will pay the special assessments collected from the property taxes to the port authority twice a year, Skepper said.

The county was approached by the port authority to be part of the MinnPACE program because two-thirds of other counties in the state have signed up for it, she said.

“There was a gap the port authority wanted to fill,” Skepper said.

County staff have been working with the port authority on implementing the program for over a year.

A concern for the county that has been resolved is what happens if a business shuts downs, but the special assessments will be levied on the property and be part of any sale of the building, Skepper said.

The type of clean energy projects financed by the port authority include solar panels, energy-efficient HVAC (heating and air conditioning) and lighting improvements to buildings, according to Skepper.

“There is interest among the business community in Anoka County,” Skepper said.

Once the county partnership with the port authority is finalized, the county is aware of a couple of applications for financing that are ready to be made, she said.

“This is a great tool to have in the county’s marketing tool box,” said Commissioner Mandy Meisner.

The port authority will obtain project financing from designated lending institutions or by issuing revenue bonds.

According to the port authority website, the MinnPACE program is a fit for most industries, including farms, commercial office buildings, nonprofit organizations like churches and multitenant buildings, covering 100% of project costs with special assessment payments spread over 20 years.

The St. Paul Port Authority was established by the Minnesota Legislature as a non-governmental agency in 1929 to manage the St. Paul Harbor, but its range has expanded since then, and in 1955 the Legislature authorized it to engage in economic development activities inland.

It is managed by a seven-member board of commissioners, which includes two members of the St. Paul City Council, who are appointed by the St. Paul mayor to six-year terms.

 

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