Sonoma County Energy Independence Program celebrates its 5th year anniversary

The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) is celebrating its fifth anniversary, riding the wave of a nationwide resurgence in support for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

SCEIP has funded more than 2,040 projects to date, totaling upwards of $66 million in retrofits to Sonoma County homes and businesses with items such as energy-efficient windows, heating and cooling equipment, insulation and solar panels leading the list of over 90 pre-approved eligible improvements. These projects have prevented the emission of more than 8,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, according to SCEIP.

PACE financing allows property owners to take advantage of energy and water saving upgrades to their homes or businesses and pay off the investment over time through their property tax bills. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors authorized the creation of SCEIP to offer PACE in Sonoma County, and SCEIP opened its doors on March 25, 2009 as the first multi-jurisdictional municipal PACE program to provide residential and non-residential financing in the United States.

PACE programs have proliferated across the country and more than 31 states have passed PACE- enabling legislation, despite significant challenges from the Federal Housing Finance Agency based on concerns about the senior priority of PACE obligations. To address these challenges in California, Governor Brown and State Treasurer Lockyer have led the creation of a Statewide PACE mortgage loss reserve program. Administered by the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, the program will protect mortgage holders from losses associated with any defaults from properties that have PACE liens. Read more.

HERO receives Green California Leadership Award!

The HERO Program was presented with a Leadership Award for Energy Efficiency during the Green California Summit in Sacramento on April 8.

Each year, public sector sustainability in California is recognized at the Leadership Awards Ceremony during the Green California Summit. This year’s awards, capturing outstanding initiatives and programs in eight different categories, were presented at the Summit’s Awards Reception at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Now in its eighth year, this conference highlights the wide range of policies, programs, strategies and technologies that are being implemented to preserve the natural resources of the Golden State.

The HERO Program, developed and administered by the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG), won this year’s Leadership Award in the category of Energy Efficiency. Providing financing access to residential and commercial property owners who wish to make energy efficiency, renewable energy or water conservation improvements to their properties, HERO is the nation’s largest Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. Read more.

CaliforniaFIRST program has been made more accessible to homeowners throughout the state

California’s property-assessed clean energy (PACE) loans may soon become available to the state’s homeowners again through the CaliforniaFIRST program. PACE financing is designed to promote the adoption of clean energy among homeowners and businesses by reducing the upfront costs associated with this adoption. Over the past three years, California’s PACE financing has been stalling because of conflicts with mortgage lenders. The CaliforniaFIRST program had, therefore, only been available to commercial property owners and multi-family housing units. Read more.

San Diego County votes to expand clean energy financing program to homeowners

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved extending the county’s solar-energy financing program to homeowners.

The program, known as property-assessed clean energy, or PACE, has allowed commercial properties within unincorporated areas to be upgraded with solar energy or other energy-saving improvements through privately raised funds paid down over time as a surcharge on future property tax bills.

The expanded PACE program will give unincorporated-area homeowners the same option to install energy-saving devices in their homes, Supervisor Dave Roberts said.

The five-member board’s vote was unanimous.

“This is a huge breakthrough because it will provide another path for homeowners to tap into solar energy and to unplug themselves from SDG&E,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob, board chairwoman, said in a statement. “This brings us closer to a vision many of us share — rooftop solar all across sunny San Diego County.”

Roberts said it could also serve to stimulate the local economy.

Homeowners in unincorporated parts of the county will be able to apply for PACE financing within the next few months, the board said.

The three vendors through which the program will be carried out are the HERO financing program of Renovate America Inc., Figtree Financing and the CaliforniaFirst program.

White House Honors Jessica Bailey as “Champions of Change” for Solar Deployment

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, April 17, 2014, the White House will honor ten local heroes who are “Champions of Change” for their efforts to promote and expand solar deployment in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

As the President highlighted in his State of the Union address, the pace of solar deployment has picked up. Last year was a record-breaking year for new solar installations, and the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased around eleven fold – from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 13 gigawatts today, which is enough to power more than 2.2 million American homes. In fact, every four minutes another American home or business went solar. Whether it is deployed at the utility scale or by rural electric co-ops, businesses, multifamily housing, or new home builders, solar power is now a cost competitive option that offers financial and environmental benefits. This trend has yielded new economic opportunities for many Americans – job growth in the solar industry is now increasing by 20% each year.

 

Jessica Bailey, Director of Commercial and Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority
Norwalk, CT

Jessica Bailey joined Connecticut’s “green bank,” the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, as the Director of Commercial and Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) in August 2012. In this role, she has designed a state-wide program that allows building owners to access financing to perform clean energy improvements on their properties. In the first year, this program brought $20 million in financing to clean energy projects in Connecticut resulting in the deployment of over 3 megawatts of solar energy and millions of dollars of energy efficiency savings across 2 million square feet of buildings.  Through her work in Connecticut, Bailey has demonstrated the power of PACE financing to quickly deploy clean energy. Bailey worked from 2004-2012 at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, where she served as the Fund’s program officer for sustainable development. She received her graduate degree from Yale University and undergraduate from the University of Notre Dame.

President Obama is committed to continuing the momentum. In June 2013, the President launched a comprehensive Climate Action Plan<http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan> to cut carbon pollution and advance the clean energy economy. As part of that Plan, the President set a goal to double solar, wind, and geothermal electricity generation by 2020 and to more than triple the onsite renewable energy production in federally assisted residential buildings.

Texas Program for Low-Cost Financing of Water, Energy Conservation Projects Nears Launch

AUSTIN, Texas, April 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Local governments, lenders, manufacturers, engineers, contractors, and commercial property owners are being asked for input on the final draft of policies, processes, and documents for use in launching the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program throughout Texas.

The PACE financing program, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry last June, allows commercial, industrial, and multi-family property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term private sector financing for water conservation and energy-efficiency improvements to their properties.

The non-profit organization formed to promote PACE legislation is distributing the final draft of the “PACE in a Box” toolkits throughout Texas, at no cost to local governments, with a goal of providing everything needed to create a uniform, sustainable, and scalable program in Texas.

“We know that success hinges on making PACE financing as practical and user-friendly as possible,” said Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director of Keeping PACE in Texas. “The feedback will ensure that PACE in Texas reflects the best thinking on energy efficiency, water conservation, and implementation of the program. We want Texas to serve as a model in maximizing the benefits of PACE throughout the United States.”

In an effort to incorporate the experience of PACE administrators and users in other states, and to attract companies interested in administering the program in Texas, the group is seeking feedback from stakeholders nationwide as the final step in the design process.

The toolkit, covering details such as the PACE loan application, debt servicing responsibilities, administrative fees, and savings metrics, is available here.

The request for information (RFI) documents are found here, and comments are requested by May 15, 2014.

“Many commercial property owners are unable to make efficiency and conservation improvements because of the upfront costs and capital normally required,” said Heydinger. “PACE loans will enable Texas businesses to upgrade and enhance the value of existing structures, save substantial amounts in water and energy costs, amortize the debt over the useful life of the improvement, and create thousands of jobs.”

In most cases, the annual utility savings resulting from the qualifying conservation improvement will exceed the amount of the annual assessment, allowing a PACE project to pay for itself over time.

For information about the PACE financing process and more, visit www.keepingpaceintexas.org.

For additional information: Charlene Heydinger, 512-469-6184, or charlene.heydinger@keeppace.org.

 

SOURCE PACE Texas

Property Assessed Clean Energy in Michigan: Private Sector PACE Takes Flight in Michigan

Southfield, MI (PRWEB) April 03, 2014

See full release.

Lean & Green Michigan announced today the first privately financed Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) project in Michigan. The project involves over $1,000,000 of improvements to the 1-800-Law-Firm building at 26700 Lahser Road in Southfield. Over $500,000 will be financed through PACE, an innovative new tool that allows any business to use a property tax assessment to obtain much longer term financing than is otherwise available in the capital markets.

Andy Levin, the President of Lean & Green Michigan and the administrator of Southfield’s PACE program said, “Today marks the beginning of a new era of cost saving for Michigan businesses of all kinds. The door is now wide open for businesses to save money by making their buildings more efficient and producing their own clean energy.”

Lean & Green Michigan is a true public-private partnership. Levin congratulated the parties that came together to achieve this historic deal:

  •     The City of Southfield, which was the very first jurisdiction to create a PACE district with Lean & Green Michigan. “Mayor Brenda Lawrence, the City Council, and the city’s hard working professional staff all played big roles in reaching this historic day.”
  •     Ari Kresch, CEO of 1-800-Law-Firm. “Today’s announcement derives above all from the vision of Ari Kresch. Not satisfied to have made his building more efficient, today he is adding solar and wind generating capacity, electric vehicle charging stations, and additional efficiency measures. Ari understands the power of PACE to transform our commercial and industrial building stock.”
  •     Srinergy, the turnkey solar projects development company: “Srinergy President Prasad Gullapalli represents the can-do, entrepreneurial spirit that will bring Michigan back – and make it a center of the clean energy economy.”
  •     Comerica Bank: “Comerica banker Joe Vassallo provided up-front capital and consent for the PACE portion of financing, helping to give birth to this innovative new finance market in Michigan.”

 

The 1-800-Law-Firm PACE project already boasts a signed term sheet and project development contract. The parties expect the last approvals required for the project to be completed by the City of Southfield next month; that the PACE financing will close then; and that construction will be complete by early summer.

Background on Lean & Green Michigan and PACE

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is taking the nation by storm. Between 2008 and 2013, 31 states and the District of Columbia passed PACE statutes. These state PACE laws empower local governments to use the property tax system to facilitate long-term financing for clean energy projects. According to PACENow, thecommercial PACE market doubled between 2010 and 2013, and is poised for continued growth.

PACE is a game changer because it enables lenders to finance projects over ten to twenty years. Many clean energy projects don’t pay off for eight or ten or fifteen years, while traditional commercial loans generally have terms of only three to five years. This mismatch has left many valuable clean energy projects stuck with no effective way to finance them. By allowing the use of the special assessment mechanism by private parties to achieve a public good, PACE breaks open the market for clean energy economic development without the use of taxpayer dollars.

Lean & Green Michigan is a statewide PACE program open to all Michigan counties and cities for free. Already, six counties and two cities with a total population of 3,645,976 (37% of all Michiganders) have joined Lean & Green Michigan:

 

  •     Counties: Huron, Ingham, Macomb, Saginaw, Washtenaw, and Wayne
  •     Cities: Rochester Hills and Southfield
  •     More jurisdictions are joining all the time.

 

Michigan’s PACE statute covers for-profit and non-profit business property of all kinds. Business property owners can finance almost any combination of clean energy improvements to their buildings through PACE, including energy and water efficiency measures and renewable energy generation. In general, for a project to be approved it must be cash flow positive for the property owner. That means that the energy savings must be greater than the payments throughout the life of the finance term.

Lean & Green Michigan takes a market-oriented approach to PACE, allowing property owners to work with contractors and lenders of their choice. By creating one big, flexible market for the state, Lean & Green Michigan seeks to unleash the pent-up demand for energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy in order to achieve many goals: save property owners money; create more business for Michigan contractors and manufacturers of clean energy products; put people to work retrofitting buildings; update our commercial and industrial property stock to make us more competitive; and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

About PACENow:
PACENow is a non-profit foundation funded advocate for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACENow’s mission is to promote improved energy efficiency in buildings and use of PACE. Our strategy is to be a trusted source for information and resources to a growing coalition of PACE stakeholders that includes local governments, businesses, industry service providers, labor and trade organizations, environmental groups and private individuals nationwide.

For more information about the 1-800-Law-Firm project, PACE or Lean & Green Michigan, contact Lean & Green Michigan President Andy Levin at andy(at)levinenergypartners(dot)com or 248-808-1420.

Arkansas: The City of North Little Rock became the state’s second energy improvement district

North Little Rock Becomes 2nd Arkansas City with a PACE District

NORTH LITTLE ROCK – The City of North Little Rock became the state’s second energy improvement district under provisions of the State Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Act after the city council unanimously approved a proposed ordinance during its regular meeting Monday night.

Mayor Joe Smith announced the ordinance approval after a brief discussion and unanimous vote by the council and several supportive comments from business and industry representatives, mostly members of AAEA.

In his comments to the council, NLR City Attorney Jason Carter called the PACE ordinance an “economic development opportunity” for the city and explained that without the Council’s action, “there will be no energy improvement district in North Little Rock.”

A similar PACE ordinance was adopted by the City of Fayetteville last October and a newly-appointed Board of Directors is working this year toward an official launch of the program by summer.

The PACE Act was a major policy priority for AAEA during last year’s Arkansas General Assembly.  It enables local communities to create energy improvement districts to allow private financing of energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy projects and water conservation improvements.  Property owners may qualify for 100%, low-interest loans that are secured by real property assessments.  PACE is strictly voluntary and in communities that adopt PACE, assessments are only paid by participating property owners and only for their respective projects.

The NLR City Council heard supportive comments from Heather Nelson, President and COO of SEAL Energy Solutions; Ron McCarty with Powers of Arkansas; Lisa Meyer, Manager of McCain Mall; and Steve Patterson, Executive Director, AAEA.

Meyer indicated that McCain Mall owner Simon Properties is prepared to utilize PACE financing to implement various energy savings improvements at the facility.   Both Nelson and McCarty agreed that by enabling low-cost, private financing for property owners to pay for energy improvements, the City Council will help create jobs.  They said commercial property owners can be more competitive by reducing energy costs.

“We congratulate the property owners of North Little Rock who, thanks to their City Council, will soon have access to this modern and innovative energy improvement financing mechanism to improve their properties,” Patterson said.  “PACE is a job creator.  There is a very good reason it is rapidly expanding across the country as a practical way for property owners to save energy costs and improve cash flow.”

The proposed ordinance would establish the “North Little Rock Energy Improvement District” under terms of the state’s new Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Act.   The City of Fayetteville became the first Arkansas city to create a district last October. Read more.

Maloney Joins Local Leaders to Announce Legislation to Create Jobs, Increase Energy Efficiency

PRESS RELEASE from Stephanie Formas, Communications Director, Office of U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)

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l-r: Chris Burdick, Supervisor, Bedford; Warren Lucas, Supervisor, North Salem; Mike Kaplowitz, Westchester Legislator; Pete Harckham, Westchester Legislator; Sean Patrick Maloney, US Representative; Ellen Conrad, Bedford 2020; Mary Beth Kass, Bedford council; behind her: Mark Thielking, Chair, Energize NY; Kevin Brenner, Healthy Homes; to right: Herb Oringel, founder of the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium

Somers, NY – As one of three energy bills introduced this week, Rep. Sean Maloney announced the bipartisan Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Assessment Protection Act of 2014 at  Healthy Home Energy & Consulting in Somers. The legislation, HR 4285, helps spur local job creation and increase energy efficiency by enabling State and local governments to develop and implement PACE programs through local government financing of residential and nonresidential energy efficiency improvements. PACE programs – currently available in 31 states and the District of Columbia – allow property owners to finance the purchase and installation of energy retrofits to their homes and businesses and then pay for them each year as part of their property tax, and more than a dozen communities in Orange County and Northern Westchester participate in the Energize NY PACE program including Bedford, Lewisboro, North Salem, Pound Ridge and Somers. [see video]

“With my neighbors already facing astronomical energy costs, we need to get rid of needless bureaucracy and start helping our homeowners invest in the technology of the future,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “Communities like Bedford, Somers and Pound Ridge are leading the nation to reduce energy consumption through PACE financing, and we need to cut through the red tape to ensure they can continue create jobs and increase energy efficiency by expanding this innovative program.”

“The potential to reduce energy spending is massive and the associated job creation, increased economic activity and reduced pollution is huge. With Energize NY (PACE) Financing expanded to include residential properties, our communities will immediately see hundreds of homes eligible for funding to reduce their energy waste and generate savings that benefit our communities,” said Mark Thielking, Chairman of the Energy Improvement Corporation.

“PACE financing for both commercial and residential property owners will help Energize NY expand energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption in New York State.  We support Congressman Maloney’s efforts to make this important sector of our economy more sustainable into the future,” said Tom Bregman, Director of Energize New York.

PACE Program Launch in New York State: New Program Helps Preserve Affordable Housing in Westchester County

Yorktown Heights, NY (PRWEB) March 25, 2014

In an effort to preserve Westchester County’s existing affordable housing, Energize NY and The Westchester Department of Planning introduced a new program on March 11, 2014 to help affordable housing and non-profit building owners to improve their buildings by making them more energy efficient and to add renewable energy.

The Energize NY Westchester Project will provide building owners a one-stop resource to collaborate with NYS energy reduction incentive programs, find reliable contractors, access innovative Energize NY PACE financing for energy improvements as well as the County’s new subsidy to help the commercial multifamily affordable housing sector preserve the County’s existing affordable units. Read more.

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