Carol Brzozowski 2018-01-10 11:15:36
In 2008, Scott Ringlein’s 20-year auto industry career ended abruptly, as it did for many others during the recession’s onset. After, Ringlein worked on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a US Department of Energy technical advisor. His entrepreneurial “aha” moment came when he was introduced to a paradigm shift in energy efficiency project funding. During a 2011 networking function, Ringlein was introduced to an induction lighting company offering a product using 50% less energy and lasting 400% longer than those in use at the time, funded through a then-novel program offering financing for up to 10 years at a fixed rate. It was then that he realized the pairing of long-term funding and savings achieved from the reduced energy and maintenance costs resulted in a cash flow positive position from day one. Taking that model, Ringlein founded The Energy Alliance Group of North America (EAG), of which he is now president. EAG serves as a project developer for industrial and commercial energy efficiency and cost recovery solutions, specializing in Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financed projects throughout the US from its Michigan, Ohio, and South Dakota divisions. Ringlein says he’s positioned his company as a leading authority on the administration of the PACE program as a financing option for energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy, enabling property owners to accept a voluntary property tax special assessment to secure non-recourse project funding. With access to unlimited fixed-rate and long-term funding, large energy efficiency improvement projects can be 100% funded and achieve a positive return from the onset. EAG’s holistic approach to energy efficiency and cost recovery solutions focuses on its PACE+4 program utilizing its “Four Cores”—technologies, financing, incentives, and services—to help end-users attain the highest return on investment, notes Ringlein. Technology-agnostic and solution-driven, EAG identifies a number of operational savings through its Incentive and Service offerings, including niche engineering-based programs such as utility incentives, tax incentives, tax credits, utility choice, and other operational improvement and cost recovery services. What He Does Day to Day Ringlein focuses on the “big picture and next steps,” serving as a hands-on executive involved with developing processes and procedures, conducting audits, and speaking at conferences nationwide. What Led Him into This Line of Work Although Ringlein knew nothing about the technologies, financing, incentives, or services that his company offers prior to starting EAG, he believed in its approach, process, and capacity for success. His bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Lake Superior State University, master’s degree in manufacturing engineering from Eastern Michigan University, and auto industry experience, combined with Ringlein’s structure and process-driven personality, were driving factors for his quick learning curve and EAG’s early success. What He Likes Most About His Work Ringlein says he is fulfilling a lifelong dream to teach others through his job, which includes speaking at conferences, conducting webinars, and meeting with clients. He enjoys coming up with new ideas and strategies to overcome challenges and build trust with clients, partners, affiliates, and colleagues. He is passionate about making a difference for the environment and people through “doing good while doing well.” Since its launch, 10% of the company’s profits go to charities. In 2016, Ringlein created the Kilowatts for a Cause 501(c)(3) nonprofit solar program to raise money for charities, scholarships, and other community causes. His Biggest Challenge Securing working capital to grow is one of his biggest challenges, notes Ringlein. He learned that investors are only interested in companies that “make something, own something, or have patents” in contrast to service companies, adding that “not many invest in knowledge or better ways of doing things.” He’s gradually mitigating that through securing solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), obtaining trademarks, and selling the company’s knowledge. Another challenge: finding funding sources to support a niche market. “Most PACE investors want large projects of more than $500,000,” he says. “Statistically, there are far more projects needing $150,000 to $500,000, but few or no PACE investors are interested. We launched EAG Global Capital to offer investments into the energy sector with a fixed rate of return and dividends through securing assets through PACE and solar PPAs.” DE Carol Brzozowski writes on the topics of technology and industry.
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