How to Make Efficiency Savings and Clean Energy Accessible in Your Community

Just like in the field of energy technology, early adopters of energy efficiency financing have an important role to play in proving – and improving – cutting edge innovations aimed at making efficiency investments pay. PACE programs around the country have emerged in fits and starts, but as more PACE programs become available and serve greater numbers of people, the more support there will be for this promising means of generating energy efficiency investments.  

You will likely be hearing more about PACE programs going forward, especially in light of yesterday’s news that U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Secretary Castro and Governor Brown of California announced actions to expand financing for energy efficiency and solar energy in multifamily housing.

PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, is an innovative way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to buildings. Since buildings use nearly half the energy we consume in the United States, and three quarters of the electricity, making them more efficient creates a huge opportunity for cost savings and reductions in carbon pollution. While more than 80% of the US population live and work in states that have PACE-enabling laws, PACE is not yet widely available throughout these states. Since PACE is a local financing tool, this means that cities and counties need to act to make PACE available by developing or joining an existing program. Programs are already achieving benefits in states like Connecticut that have installed solar panels and cut utility bills for dozens of the state’s affordable housing units. By eliminating upfront costs, providing low-cost long-term financing and making it easy for building owners to transfer repayment obligations to a new owner upon sale, PACE overcomes challenges that have hindered adoption of energy efficiency measures in buildings across the nation.

As explained by Danielle Baussan, Managing Director of Energy Policy at Center for American Progress, “Since lower-income households spend a disproportionate amount of income on energy bills, HUD’s multifamily PACE program could result in greater financial stability for low-income residents while simultaneously reducing energy-related carbon pollution and its associated health impacts. Doing it this way alleviates homeowner concerns about the upfront costs of energy efficiency. It also ensures that homeowners will see a return on those costs through energy savings regardless of how long they live in their home.”

If you would like to learn more about the communities who are implementing PACE programs, and how to start a PACE program in your municipality, contact PACE for more information.

By Danielle Baussan @DanielleBaussan | ClimateProgress

New Program Will Support Clean Energy And Efficiency For Low-Income Residents

On Thursday, the federal government and California Governor Jerry Brown announced a new program to resolve one the greatest hurdles for energy efficiency in low income communities: how to pay for it. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State of California, and the MacArthur Foundation have partnered together to develop a pilot program that finances energy efficiency and renewable energy to multifamily housing units in California using the Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program.

“This partnership will open up a whole new channel for private capital to come in and deliver energy savings to a population that would benefit enormously, without any new expenditure of public funds required,” said Ben Healey, of the Connecticut Green Bank.

PACE is not a new idea. It began as a pilot project in Berkeley in 2007, and more than half of U.S. states and the District of Columbia had adopted PACE legislation as of April 2013. PACE programs offer financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to homes but, unlike a regular bank loan tied to the borrower, a PACE loan is tied to the property. Homeowners repay the loan as a lien on their property taxes.

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