LISBON — The Columbiana County Port Authority will add another economic development tool to its tool belt in an effort to encourage clean energy transition in the county.
The CCPA Board of Directors approved the petition to Leetonia City Council for the creation of a Special Energy Improvement District, the first step in eligibility for a clean energy funding program, referred to as a PACE program. .
The port owns a production facility on Cherry Fork Avenue in Leetonia that has already implemented several energy-efficient improvements, such as an energy-efficient HVAC system and LED lighting. The port has plans to run more energy improvement projects on the property, making the village eligible for the creation of the ESID because the site is within the village boundaries. Eligible energy efficiency improvements include HVAC, lighting, roofs, windows and insulation, as well as alternative energy improvements such as solar energy projects.
Tad Herold, Columbiana County’s director of economic development, said an ESID is a council of people approved by the local legislative authority that approves all PACE applications.
PACE programs allow property owners to pay for energy efficiency projects on their properties. It also gives them long-term, fixed-rate financing through the banks that have agreed to make loans to PACE properties. The loans granted would be repaid through the taxes paid on the property.
The possible establishment of the ESID in Leetonia will allow other property owners in other municipalities to join as ESIDs can expand to other municipalities, townships and villages. Herold said the creation of one ESID could lead to a nationwide ESID.
“We’re doing this so that everyone can get in in the future, so eventually this thing could encompass the entire province, but we’ll do it if we need to,” said Herald.
In other cases, the port was approved for a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia grant program. The money will be invested in the Global Investment Hub project in Leetonia. According to executive director Penny Traina, the hub will be used to attract new and foreign companies and companies to invest in the province, particularly in 3D printing, technology and petrochemical clusters.