John’s Cleaners in Lafayette Installing 140 Solar Panels

Lafayette-based John’s Cleaners has always prided itself on being a green dry-cleaning operation. Now, with a little help from county and state energy programs, John’s might be the greenest cleaner in the state.

Business owners John and Wendy Ellwood are going full solar, installing 140 panels that will provide 68,000 kilowatt hours of energy. To finance the project, the Ellwoods utilized a brand-new state program from the Colorado Energy Office, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE).

John’s was only the second C-PACE project in the state: The first was another Boulder County property — a 42,000-square-foot commercial/industrial building across from Foothills Hospital.

The C-PACE program connects business owners with financers to fund their desired energy efficiency projects. The long-term loans are tied not to the business but to the property itself in the form of an assessment. That way, if the business owners sell the property, the cost of the energy project is transferred to the new owner.

“The two biggest arguments (against efficiency projects are) they don’t have the money or they don’t know how long they’ll be in the building,” said Tracy Phillips, director of Colorado’s C-PACE program. “If they take out a loan and sell or move, they’ve invested in energy savings they’re never going to see.”

By connecting business owners with finance options, C-PACE also helps tackle their other major worry: upfront costs.

The Ellwoods paid nothing out of pocket for the project, funneling all the costs into a multi-year loan with Petros Partners, an Austin, Texas-based investment firm.

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