The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Keeping Up the PACE

Last month, in what New York legislators called an "extraordinary" session, lawmakers voted to authorize municipal finance programs for clean energy improvements on homes and businesses. Called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing, these popular municipal programs allow homeowners to go solar and make efficiency improvements without any upfront cost. Just how popular is PACE? There was not one single "no" vote in either house. New York's PACE legislation passed by a resounding 192 – 0.

And New York is not alone.  Fifteen other states have passed laws to allow PACE programs.  For those keeping track that’s: California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Municipalities in Hawaii and Florida can implement PACE programs without any special enabling legislation at the state level. So why is PACE suddenly the most popular flavor of state renewable energy policy?

PACE programs effectively remove the single greatest barrier to energy efficiency and solar adoption — upfront cost. It works like this: Cities set up special clean energy finance districts capable of issuing low-interest bonds.  Participating property owners can then opt-in to use the bond money to pay for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. They then pay the loan back through a long-term assessment on their property taxes.

This arrangement spreads the cost of a new solar system out across a 20-year payment plan that is easily transferable (along with those energy saving benefits) to the next owner if the property changes hands — a particular benefit to solar that can have longer payback periods. Best of all, the cost of that assessment is typically less than the electricity bill savings generated by the new solar system, so property owners see savings from day one.

Local governments understand the promise of PACE as well.  First, and perhaps most importantly in these volatile economic times, the bond-backed PACE model presents little to no impact on the city’s general fund. Or the state’s for that matter (thus why it’s proven such a popular policy for state legislatures this year).

In short, it’s a fiscally-responsible way for government to support local clean energy job growth, make climate change progress, and help lower energy bills in one fell swoop. Plus it’s based on a known and trusted municipal project finance structure, making PACE programs a relatively palatable new program for cities to implement.

Look at Austin, Texas.  Earlier this fall, Austin Energy, which had consistently provided one of the strongest rebates in the nation for customer-owned solar, announced that budget constraints were necessitating changes to the popular program. PACE looked to be offering the forward-thinking municipal utility one very viable alternative option. In October, the Austin City Council unanimously passed a resolution to get the ball rolling on a PACE style program for its residents. The plan, called Project Energize, would serve as an exciting supplement to the rebate program.

The White House also recently announced its support for PACE as a job creation and economic development tool. In addition to developing best practice guidelines and consumer protections, the federal government will allow cities to apply for a portion of $454 Million in Recovery Act funds to help launch a PACE program. With the deadline to apply for those PACE dollars coming up on December 14, New York’s late night legislative decision came through for Empire State municipalities in the nick of time.

Economic crisis is forcing leaders at all levels of government to make difficult decisions between very worthy programs: healthcare, education, public safety and the transition to a new energy economy. We can help them make the right choices, by offering easier ones. Through PACE, cities empower homeowners to invest private dollars in building a local clean energy market. At a time when budgets are constrained even beyond their normal parameters, that is music to all of our ears.

Click here for additional resources including a toolkit for helping your city develop a PACE program.

Annie Carmichael is Federal Policy Director with Vote Solar. Annie spearheads the organization’s federal efforts as well as a number of state initiatives. Shaun Chapman is East Coast Campaigns Director at Vote Solar. Based in New York, Shaun leads the organization’s efforts on the east coast.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. Since 2002 Vote Solar has engaged in state, local and federal advocacy campaigns to remove regulatory barriers and implement the key policies needed to bring solar to scale.

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Hybrid solar minigrid to power Tanzanian island village

Tildy Bayar

A hybrid solar photovoltaic-battery energy storage-diesel minigrid project aims to provide power for around 400 households in the remote island village of Lake Victoria (pictured) in Tanzania. 

World Moves Toward 100 Percent Renewable Energy – First Electricity, Then Heating/Cooling, and Finally Transportation

Junko Movellan, Correspondent The exclusive use of energy from renewable resources in at least one sector has now become a feasible goal for 8 countries. Diane Moss, Founding Director of Renewables 100 Policy Institute, discussed this remarkable develop...

Solar power growth impacting UK electricity sector

Diarmaid Williams

Q2 of 2015 saw a large increase in the generation of electricity from solar PV in the UK, with the growth having a significant impact on electricity market prices and other supply factors.

PACE Finance Opening Doors for C&I Solar In California

Susan Kraemer, Correspondent With its excellent renewable policy, California leads the nation in solar. Over the years both the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the California Solar Initiative drove utility scale and residential solar deployment. But w...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Grid-connected and Off-grid Photovoltaics

This training covers all aspects of planning, installation, maintenance,...

5th Annual Hydro Plant Maintenance

Join maintenance professionals to discuss the challenges in maintenance ...

2015 Green Energy Expo

Stop by and visit Canadian Solar at the Green Energy Expo in Mexico City!

COMPANY BLOGS

Prevailing At A Premium

As efficiency sales professionals, we’re often faced with situatio...

LSX rises with sustainable wine making in Mexico

his custom LSX solar canopy shades the upper deck organic gard...

Do Your Goals Match Your Values?

Before you set goals for your company or your personal work performance ...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS