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Port Authority makes move toward clean energy in county

LISBON — The Columbiana County Port Authority will be adding another economic development tool to its tool belt in an effort to encourage the move towards clean energy in the county.

The CCPA board of directors approved the submission of a petition to Leetonia council for the creation of an energy special improvement district, the first step towards being eligible for a property assessed clean energy financing program, referred to as a PACE program.

The port owns a manufacturing facility on Cherry Fork Avenue in Leetonia that has seen several energy efficient improvements already such as an energy efficient HVAC system and LED lighting. The port has plans to undertake more energy improvement projects on the property, making the village eligible to establish the ESID due to the property being within village limits. Eligible energy efficiency improvements include HVAC, lighting, roofs, windows and insulation as well as alternative energy improvements such as solar energy projects.

Columbiana County economic development director Tad Herold said an ESID is a board of people approved by the local legislative authority that approves all the PACE applications.

PACE programs allows 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 lend to PACE properties. Loans given would be paid back through the taxes paid on the property.

The potential establishment of the ESID in Leetonia will make it possible for other property owners in other municipalities to join as ESIDs can extend to other municipalities, townships and villages. Herold said the establishment of one ESID could lead to a county-wide ESID.

“We’re doing this so anyone can hop on in the future, so eventually, this thing could encompass the entire county but we’re doing it as-needed,” Herald said.

In other business, 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. The hub will be used to attract new and foreign and companies to invest in the county, specifically in 3D printing, technology and petrochemical clusters, according to executive director Penny Traina.

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