Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Twin-party sponsors for economic development PACE bill

States where PACE programs are in operation
Legislation that would allow local Pennsylvania governments to work alongside private lenders on low-cost and long-term conservation projects and energy efficiency on industrial properties has been introduced in the state Senate by Democrat John Blake (Lackawanna) and Republican Guy Reschenthaler (Allegheny).

SB-234 would establish Pennsylvania’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. Currently, 33 states plus the District of Columbia authorize PACE financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects; this includes a diverse group of states such as Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas.

According to the sponsors, PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is a financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to commercial or industrial properties. The upfront capital is then paid back in the form of a voluntary property tax assessment on the specific, improved building. PACE can pay for new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps and insulation. It is an economic development tool that enhances property values and employment opportunities, lowers the cost of doing business, expands the use of energy saving technologies.

A local government chooses to participate in or develop a PACE financing program, so the program is voluntary. PACE financing does not require any public funds – in fact, general obligation debt financing is prohibited. Local communities merely collect the assessment on the improved building and remit it for payment on the debt incurred from the building’s energy-efficiency and clean energy technology upgrades. 

"Presently, the upfront cost of installing energy-efficient or clean energy technology can be prohibitive," the sponsors wrote in a message accompanying the bill''s introduction. "Our legislation provides a common sense, market-driven, and voluntary solution to this problem – one that has proven to work across the United States."

The sponsors say the legislation is supported by numerous stakeholders, including:

BlueGreen Alliance
Conservation Consultants Inc. (CCI)
Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC)
Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA)
The Efficiency Network (TEN)
First Fuel Software Inc.
Honeywell Building Solutions
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Third District and Locals 5, 81, 229, 712
Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA)
MaGrann Associates
National Electrical Contractor Association (NECA), Western PA and Penn-Del-Jersey Chapters
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
The Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Chapter
Penn Future
Pennsylvania Municipal League
Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association (PASEIA)
Pittsburgh City Council
Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania (SUNWPA)

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