Nicholas Zuba, MPA '15: Financing Green Energy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nicholas Zuba, MPA 15

Nicholas Zuba is an energy efficiency and environmental policy professional with a decade of experience working on environmental sustainability efforts in different communities in the Northeastern United States, specializing in deploying Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for property owners to make energy-saving improvements.

Zuba works with the Connecticut Green Bank as a Senior Manager of Commercial and Industrial Programs in Stamford, CT.  Serving as the administrator of C-PACE, he manages this program’s daily operations and constructs projects to provide financing for energy-saving improvements in commercial and industrial buildings in the state of Connecticut.  

Nicholas Zuba graduated from CIPA in 2015 with a concentration in public and nonprofit management. Zuba shaped his program of study at CIPA so that his concentration was geared toward the environmental policy field.  Here’s what he had to say about responding to the Pandemic— and how his Cornell MPA helped him react to the ever-changing landscape over the last few months.

What particular issue is your organization trying to solve or alleviate during the Pandemic?

Specific to my C-PACE Program, I am working on both how to help current borrowers alleviate burdens of making their next repayment due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and closure of businesses, as well as how to incent property owners to keep doing energy-saving projects in light of the pandemic and economic downturn. All of this together will create potential challenges to the finances of my program and that of the Green Bank as a whole to remain on track to meet its financial sustainability goals as an organization in the immediate term.

How are you and your colleagues addressing the Pandemic right now?

I devised and deployed within three weeks a pandemic response plan that created a repayment modification process for our C-PACE borrowers to work through to restructure their financing repayments. I worked collaboratively with colleagues throughout my organization to design and create the plan, and get aspects of the plan passed by our organization's Board of Directors to allow for a nimble and flexible process to respond to the needs of our borrowers quickly. I am presently working with colleagues throughout our organization to create and implement ideas to bring to the market to incent and attract new property owners to use our C-PACE Program, including skipping a first payment, interest-only payment structures, and among others. We are also looking to shift our marketing messaging to tout our program as a good economic development and recovery tool to help businesses and non-profits reduce operational energy expenses to keep people employed and their organizations open.

How did your CIPA MPA help you react to the ever-changing landscape over the last few months?

My degree program and experience helped me develop leadership skills and the ability to work with interdisciplinary teams to help devise solutions quickly. Working on time-sensitive projects for clients or class assignments gave me the experience to work under pressure with classmates to help me work in a fast-paced and pressured situation. Pro-bono client experiences working on Capstone and SGE consulting projects in the Johnson School helped prepare me as well to work with interdisciplinary teams and are good real-world experiences that prepared me for this crisis.

What are some policy changes you hope will come out of this Pandemic?

It is my hope that we will be able to devise ready-made crisis response plans that can be taken out and used at any time to be on offense to dealing with a crisis, as opposed to reacting to a crisis.

I would like to see a Pandemic response office implemented again within the White House and a playbook fully implemented again to help respond quickly to a pandemic. I hope also a permanent, fiscal economic solution could be put in place to help give Americans more financial cushion during the course of a year that they could draw on in an emergency, instead of needing to spend trillions of dollars as one-time investments to prop up our national economy (i.e. Universal Basic Income).

Share Your CIPA Alumni In Action Story

Help us share your experience responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic by submitting a CIPA alumni note. We hope to highlight you and your organization's response to the Pandemic in our Alumni in Action series.  Please contact Sarah Louise Schupp, Assistant Director of External Relations, to share your story. We sincerely appreciate your hard work and dedication to improving the lives of others during this unprecedented time.