Clean Energy Finance Center Helps to Design First Statewide Commercial PACE Program

Connecticut’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) legislation passed the state legislature on June 12. This legislation creates the first statewide C-PACE program in the country. Decreasing building energy consumption will benefit the public by creating local jobs, reducing energy bills, making businesses more competitive, and increasing tax revenue. The legislation will also help Connecticut achieve its aggressive clean energy goals.

The Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) will manage the program. CEFIA will aggregate the transactions and work with financial institutions to invest in them, allowing commercial building owners to access capital at a lower interest rate than they can today.

“We are very excited about the passage of a commercial and industrial property assessed clean energy program in Connecticut,” CEFIA President Bryan Garcia commented to PaceNOW. “This statewide clean energy financing effort… will encourage and enable local institutions to invest in commercial clean energy projects and help Connecticut’s businesses stabilize their energy costs and continue to become more competitive.”

Connecticut is the first state to work with bankers actively on this issue. As a result, the Connecticut Bankers Association endorsed the legislation. A wide range of stakeholders support the innovative financing approach – including municipalities, businesses, solar contractors, project developers and financiers, and environmental groups.

”There’s a degree of excitement out there with the bankers. It’s one of the newer products we’ve had in some time,” said Tom Mongellow, Vice President and Treasurer of the Connecticut Bankers Association. “The banking industry, obviously, is very well aware of the increasing product demand for clean energy solutions, both on a commercial and a residential basis. This was a great way to get green lending out on the street.”

Mongellow believes Connecticut’s C-PACE legislation is influencing other states. “One thing we were also excited about was that the Connecticut approach was being looked at as a model out there,” he said. Over 28 states have passed commercial PACE legislation, but many of them have not followed through actively yet. Connecticut’s new strategy offers an alternate route toward funding commercial PACE programs.

“We have been so impressed by the depth and breadth of the coalition that came together around C-PACE and are looking forward to continuing that momentum as a program launches. There is tremendous opportunity to have an impact, given the broad-based support,” said Kerry O’Neill, Senior Advisor at the Clean Energy Finance Center.

The Clean Energy Finance Center played a key role in educating stakeholders about C-PACE as a driver of jobs, business competitiveness, and investment in Connecticut’s commercial and industrial property base. The Clean Energy Finance Center has been assisting CEFIA with the initial program design and will continue that work during the next several months.

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A former mechanical engineer with graduate training in journalism and environmental studies, Kat Friedrich is a self-employed writer focusing on energy, sustainability and technology. She is the editor of Yale University's Clean Energy Finance Forum news website.

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