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PACE Programs Coming To a Town Near YOU!

From Feb. 15, 2010 Issue of ‘Green Energy Times’

PACE – Property Assessed Clean Energy

There is a new program available to help VT-ers invest in energy efficiency & renewable energy projects for their homes & businesses. The VT  Energy Act of 2009, which recently became law in VT , includes a provision that allows for the creation of Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, programs. This is a concept that has been approved in 16 states, & successfully implemented in CA, NY & CO. Pace is being considered in many other locations around the country.

Vermonters know that investing in energy efficiency & renewable energy improvements is good for the environment as well as financially beneficial over time. VT  policymakers have an interest in encouraging these investments, because they help meet not only greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, but also the aggressive building energy efficiency goals established in VT  statutes.

One major barrier to making these investments is a lack of sufficient upfront capital. For property owners who don’t have the cash to make these investments in major energy improvements, there are few options available that have the necessary combination of easy qualification, attractive interest rate, & a relatively long repayment term.
PACE is a voluntary program allowing individuals wishing to make eligible energy improvements to ‘opt-in’ to a special assessment district created by their municipality.

Energy efficiency and/or renewable energy improvements are funded by taxable municipal bonds or other municipal debt, repaid over a 20 year period. All improvement work must be performed by appropriately qualified & licensed contractors & must  be approved by an energy efficiency utility & your municipality.

Please let your town managers know if you are interested in signing up for PACE now!
Key Provisions of PACE Vote: The March vote will authorize Selectboards to move forward on implementing a PACE program. This vote is not an authorization to borrow money for the program – only to study & implement procedures.

PACE Programs:

  • Enable municipalities to create & secure financing for a PACE program.
  • Participating municipalities can join together to obtain funding at a more cost effective rate.
  • Participating property owners pay back the loan over a period of (up to) 20 years through a special assessment charged as a new line item on their property tax bill.
  • The maximum amount that can be financed is 15% of the assessed value of the property, capped at $30,000 for residential properties up to 4 units. The total amount financed by PACE plus any outstanding mortgages on the property cannot exceed 90% of the assessed value.
  • Benefits for VT  Property Owners Overcomes a key financial hurdle for making investments in energy efficiency & renewable energy. Incremental special assessment payments are low & fixed for up to 20 years, with no upfront cost, & there are no costs to property owners who do not participate.
  • PACE assessment fees transfer to the new owner when the property is sold, or assessment obligation can be paid in full at transfer.
  • Electricity & or fuel bills are lower than they would be without the improvements, & the property owner is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Cities & towns can use PACE to become more self-reliant & energy efficient & contribute to meeting community sustainability, climate, & energy goals.
  • Cities & towns can provide a valuable public service to the members of their community.

Benefits to VT ’s Economy

  • The implementation of PACE could inject millions of dollars directly into the VT  economy with additional jobs which would make lasting energy & building infrastructure improvements. PACE would provide a steady & growing demand for energy efficiency installers, as well as installers of small-scale renewable energy systems.
  • Help to establish a steady & predictable demand for energy efficiency & renewable energy products, helping suppliers & retailers expand their businesses.

Next Steps:

The implementation of PACE in each municipality requires a public warning for a vote on Town Meeting Day. Before then – please help spread the word – hold meetings with interested parties. Energy committees will have public meetings to educate voters. Each municipality will have to make decisions about the parameters of their particular program.

VEIC – Efficiency VT  & the VT  League of Cities & Towns will provide support & model documents to assist in the implementation.

Please consider writing a letter of support to your town, or newspaper.

Pace will be on the warning in the following towns: Burlington, Thetford, Westminster, Putney, Wilmington, Whitingham, Marlboro & many others in the fall.

~ Credits to 100 energy committees across VT  

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