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Utah’s Office of Energy Development’s U-Save Energy Fund Program: Funding Opportunities

The Utah U-Save Energy Fund Program (“U-Save”) finances energy-related cost reduction retrofits for publicly-owned buildings, including: state, tribal, municipal (city and county, which can include publicly-owned drinking water systems), public school districts, charter schools, public colleges, and public university facilities. Through U-Save, low interest rate loans are provided to assist these institutions in financing their energy cost reduction efforts. Because this is a revolving loan fund, U-Save permits borrowers to repay loans through the stream of cost savings realized from these projects. Also because it is a revolving fund, the availability of funds may have to wait for fund repayments by previous applicants.

All U-Save projects must be analyzed by a Professional Engineer who meets the criteria outlined in Section II of the U-Save Program Guidebook. Project descriptions and calculations are presented in an Energy Assessment Report (EAR), which is then reviewed and approved by OED’s technical staff before project financing is authorized. Projects financed by U-Save must have an average simple payback of five years or less. In the alternative, borrowers have the option of “buying down” paybacks to meet the five-year limit.

U-Save funds are available to retrofit existing equipment and installations. In identifying potential projects, technical analysts are encouraged to evaluate renewable energy technologies as well as more traditional energy retrofits. Such projects may include rooftop solar, water and space heating systems, electric generation with photovoltaic or small wind systems, or hydro-electric projects.

Following the approval of the borrower’s loan application by OED, project designs are reviewed and monitored during the construction phase, as well as at project completion. The process for designing and implementing the projects approved for the borrower includes several milestones:

  1. Selecting a Design Engineer
    This can be the same engineer who prepared the EAR, however, the borrower must follow competitive procedures (unless the borrower has an engineer under an existing contract, e.g., the City Engineer).
  2. Preparing the Design Documents
    To ensure that the design specifications match the projects identified in the report, the OED technical staff will typically prepare the following reports:

    • Design Development Report (DDR)
    • Detailed Design Review Report (DDRR).

    The DDR will be completed when the design process is approximately 50% complete and will verify that the design is proceeding in a direction that conforms with the EAR. The DDRR will evaluate the proposed schedule and estimated project construction budget provided by the design engineer.

  3. Bidding the Work
    Borrowers must competitively select contractors or bidders as required by State law.
  4. Installing the Projects
    To ensure that the work meets all technical and State requirements, OED will perform a construction monitoring visit at least once while the work is in progress.
  5. Closing Out the Project
    Upon completion of the project, the borrower will submit a Final Completion Report to OED.
  6. Repaying the Loan
    OED will forward an Amortization Schedule to the borrower based on the incurred loan amount. Loan repayments will begin within 60 days of project completion and are due quarterly. The amount of annual loan repayment is based on the energy cost savings projected in the EAR. The typical borrower is obligated to repay the loan in 20 quarterly installments over a five-year period.

Post-retrofit energy savings should be monitored by the borrower to insure that energy is being conserved and energy cost savings are being realized. The level of monitoring can range from utility bill analysis to individual systems or whole building metering, depending on the size and types of retrofits installed. Additional funds can be borrowed for the metering of large, complex retrofits. Loans are also available for systems considering to maximize the probability of achieving, or exceeding, calculated savings.

While the U-Save Program is designed for retrofits to publicly-owned buildings, water system-related improvements may be included in these retrofits. Examples of potential retrofits include, but are not limited to, improvement to heating and cooling systems within water system buildings, and:

  • replacing constant speed motors with variable speed motors or soft start motors;
  • replacing strategically located undersized pipelines or leaking pipelines with new adequately sized pipes; and,
  • adjusting and/or installing SCADA systems to maximize pumping during off-peak time periods.

Replacing pumps:

  • with worn out impellers; or,
  • operating outside its pump curve efficiency range.

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