C-PACE: Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing

C-PACE in Massachusetts:

PACE financing is a new and novel way to finance renewable energy projects in Massachusetts

 

General Statement

The USGBC-MA Chapter is excited that a comprehensive and improved C-PACE program was signed into law on August 8, 2016 in Bill H.4568. C-PACE financing will be available in early to mid 2017. 

C-PACE or a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program is a method of financing and expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency in commercial buildings and large (4+ member) family residences. A PACE agreement covers 100% of the initial renewable energy (such as solar) costs and is then paid for through a voluntary betterment assessment on the property tax bill. PACE offers 5 to 20 year payback periods with flexible interest rates that are tied to the property instead of the property owner. This allows individuals to get funding for renewable projects regardless of credit score and secures payment to installers since the payments are tied to the property lien and not the owner: although research shows most PACE assessments are paid back before transfer. It also allows property owners to save on utility bills that effectively pay for the total cost due to the inherent benefits of energy efficiency and renewables. For a more complete analysis of PACE programs and their benefits check out the American Council for Energy Efficiency Economy website. 

MassDevelopment (a quasi-state real estate financing agency) now has state-wide authority to create and fund PACE finance programs, making it easier for municipalities to structure C-PACE financing for properties in their town and allow renewable energies to grow in MA. MassDevelopment will begin funding sometime this summer. 

On the other hand, Residential PACE (R-PACE) financing for single homes and one to four-family properties remains to be established. Renovate America’s HERO Program, the leading residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the U.S., allows residential property owners to secure PACE financing. While there are currently 30 states and DC that have established C-PACE programs, only three have made residential PACE programs. Creating an R-PACE program in addition to C-PACE would put Massachusetts in line with California as a energy efficiency leader, create jobs, and save money. The HERO program has already financed more than $2.1 billion of home improvements, is on track to save property owners $3.5 billion in energy and water bills, and created over 18,000 US jobs. USGBC MA supports continued efforts to expand PACE financing in the state and local municipalities. 

Background

Although efforts towards increased energy efficiency and renewable energy have been abundant in the past, there were barriers preventing an even greater and much needed investment in longer-term performing efficiency for buildings. The Commercial PACE program moves the typical appetite for energy efficiency and renewables projects forward by increasing the old sub-5 year paybacks to up to 20-year payback terms. This fundamentally transforms the energy efficiency and renewable energy markets in MA. Additionally, the law expands PACE financing through MassDevelopment. This expansion makes it more feasible for property owners to make such investments and reap rewards for doing so.

  • Projects will be (up to) 100% financed by MassDevelopment who will ultimately sell off loans in aggregate to the capital markets, thereby enlisting the private market in support of a wide pool of efficiency, renewables and resiliency projects.
  • Terms are generally up to the useful life of the improvement, up to 20yrs, resulting in high leverage of available funds and annual cash-positive ROI for property owners.
  • Similar to a tax assessment, PACE repayments (made via the property tax bill) are an expense rather than part of the balance sheet.
  • The assessment remains part of the property regardless of the changing of ownership. More than 25 states, including the District of Columbia have authorized PACE financing for commercial property. PACE programs process applications, qualify projects and provide or arrange financing.

LegislationBill H.4568: An Act to promote energy diversity - Signed on August 8, 2016 created the commercial PACE (C-PACE) law and makes MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) adminstrators of the program.

Resources

  • MassDevelopment, a quasi-state real estate funding agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, and local, state, and federal officials and agencies to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. MassDevelopment projects revitalize urban environments and address factors limiting economic growth including transportation, energy, and infrastructure deficiencies. During FY2014, MassDevelopment financed or managed 314 projects generating investment of more than $2.9 billion in the Massachusetts economy. MassDevelopment has the capacity needed to expand PACE in Massachusetts and incentivize property owners to invest in more green building projects.
  • The Connecticut Green Bank has established a very successful Commercial PACE program (C-PACE) in CT. Since it’s inception two years ago, the CT C-PACE program has resulted in dozens of C-PACE projects statewide that will soon break the $100 million mark for total energy efficiency and renewable energy projects statewide. These projects are ultimately funded by the private capital markets, not taxpayers. The benefits of such funding go directly to property owners whose properties benefit from cash-positive energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that improve their properties for years into the future. The CT model is viewed by many as the country’s most successful commercial PACE program.
  • Climate Action Business Association (CABA) organizes local small business leaders to be more effective advocates for resiliency and prosperity (climate change mitigation and adaptation) within our communities, at the business, local, state, regional, national and international levels. CABA supports investments in clean energy and energy efficiency to reduce the climate effects caused by our carbon pollution and strengthen resiliency in the built community. CABA has taken a proactive stance in support of PACE.
  • PACENow is a nonprofit organization advocating PACE financing and was formed to broaden the awareness and adaptation of PACE financing. PACENow supports the growing market of PACE participants for increased energy efficiency and renewable energy in the built community.

Updates and Blogs

Stay tuned for more events on our calendar!

PACE Blogs:

Recommendation by USGBC MA

We are excited to see C-PACE law come to fruition over the next few months and expect to see an expansion of clean energy investment. 

 


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