New York, United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this week awarded New York communities US $40 million in federal stimulus funds to help property owners implement energy efficiency and small-scale clean energy projects. New York City and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) received the grants through the federal Retrofit Ramp-Up Program·
A consortium of 14 northern Westchester towns, led by Bedford, New York In their grant applications, the jurisdictions proposed using an innovative financing model to pay for the projects, called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). PACE programs provide a funding mechanism for municipalities to help property owners cover the up-front costs of energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy projects. Owners are then able to pay off the projects through an incremental charge on their property taxes, over an extended period of time of up to 20 years.
This is supposed to make the projects affordable by allowing property owners to enjoy substantial savings on their energy bills as they make payments – often with the savings immediately exceeding the costs. The programs are entirely voluntary. There is no requirement for municipalities to create PACE programs, or for homeowners to participate in them. If the property is sold, the financing can be transferred to the next property owner, along with the ongoing energy savings.
“PACE financing gives our town and the 14 Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium towns the tools we need to help property owners save money on energy costs, support community job growth in the construction trades, reduce air pollution that causes ailments like asthma, lower our use of imported oil and help create a clean energy community – all without impacting our general municipal budget said Mark Thielking, Director of Energy Resources for the Town of Bedford, New York.
Current New York law, however, only authorizes use of the PACE program with federal funds. According to Vote Solar, the state should expand this economic opportunity to more New Yorkers by amending the existing legislation to allow cities, counties and towns throughout the state to leverage federally supported programs with more funds, and for others to implement such programs with other funding sources, including private funding sources.
“PACE is a powerful tool for driving green job growth and making real progress in the fight against climate change. We want to see all New Yorkers have access to the many benefits of these clean energy finance programs,” said Shaun Chapman, Director of East Coast Campaigns for Vote Solar. “There’s no reason to restrict the programs to municipalities receiving federal funds. I look forward to working with New York’s lawmakers to make a quick legislative fix that unleashes PACE’s full potential.”