The Campaign recognizes the importance of Philadelphia’s neighborhood businesses as critical community infrastructure, and focuses on small service based businesses. Energy is a key driver of neighborhood resources and opportunity, and by focusing on neighborhoods first, we can identify cost-effective, market driven models that create jobs and stabilize businesses exactly where they’re needed most. It is critically important to reach these businesses that exist in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia, in particular in our poorest communities. These business owners are often de facto excluded from existing programs due to credit limitations, language barriers and lack of technical assistance. We will also provide some support for small manufacturers and houses of worship, particularly those who may not be able to take advantage of other programs to make energy improvements.
Penn State/PEA Small Business Pilot
In pilot Phase 1, The Philadelphia Energy Authority partnered with Penn State at the Navy Yard to assist with the launch of a program to provide energy efficient upgrades for food retail and restaurants. According to a recent Penn State/Food Trust study, these businesses often pay more in utilities than they do in rent in Philadelphia. They have high energy bills due mostly to commercial refrigeration, leaky building envelopes, inefficient HVAC and long operating hours. The pilot focused on small neighborhood based establishments. Business owners were provided a free energy assessment and grant and financing opportunities to upgrade to more energy efficient lighting, cooking equipment, HVAC, and envelope.
The pilot focused on:
- Lowering the cost of energy retrofit customer acquisition through low cost energy assessments, and innovative, community-based marketing and outreach efforts.
- Developing a unique approach to engineering and project scoping to assess and recommend energy conservation measures appropriate for both owner-and tenant-occupied businesses, and driving project costs down through strategic partnerships with suppliers, manufacturers and service delivery companies.
- Providing training for college students in building energy assessment methods for this building segment, supporting local job creation.
- Structuring scalable, low-cost financing mechanisms, evaluating the aggregation of small projects into portfolios, and developing institutionalized subsidies that could also be scaled.
- Building upon existing programs, including the Philadelphia Commerce Department’s current small business support programs and PECO’s and PGW’s current rebate and direct installation programs.
Phase 1 began in July 2016 and concluded April 2017. To recruit small businesses for this program, PEA established partnerships with over 30 community organizations. We were able to provide free energy assessments for 55 businesses. Several businesses are currently in the construction retrofit phase.
The Philadelphia Energy Authority and Lime Energy are collaborating on a new pilot program to provide small businesses with energy efficient retrofits. This initiative will focus on restaurants, corner stores, bars, beer distributors, grocery stores, automotive shops, dry cleaners, laundromats, and churches in West and Southwest Philadelphia. The pilot will include a community-based approach to educating and engaging small businesses on energy efficiency benefits and identifying and implementing retrofit opportunities utilizing a streamlined direct install approach. Businesses will be connected to utility rebates, grant funding, and financing. The project costs will be generated in a manner that is offset by the utility cost savings. For all building retrofits work, the program will utilize local installation contractors. The pilot will shape efforts to develop a larger-scale citywide program in the future.
Phase 2 program details are still in development. This pilot program is expected to launch in late summer 2017.