“Property Assessed Clean Energy” (PACE) is an innovative financing tool that allows property owners to borrow money to undertake a broad spectrum of clean energy improvements to their buildings. The loan is paid back on the owner’s property tax bill, with the energy bill savings created by the improvements, often resulting in net gains for the property owner. In 2009, Scientific American magazine predicted that PACE would be “one of the top 20 world changing ideas,” and it has since financed hundreds of thousands of retrofits in the US, creating over 60,000 jobs in the process.
How does PACE work?
PACE financing programs allow property owners to fund 100% of the upfront cost of energy and resource improvements to their properties and repay the financing over time through their property taxes. There are many key action takers in a successful PACE ecosystem:
- Provincial Government: The provincial government must pass "PACE enabling legislation" to define the parametres of a PACE program, thus creating the conditions for the program to proceed.
- Intermediary / PACE Administrator: A non-profit corporation typically acts as an intermediary administrator in the PACE program. The intermediary body approves the application based on if the applicant (property owner) fulfils the conditions of the PACE program. They hold the funding provided from the private sector and connect the applicant (property owner) with the local contractor within the PACE program.
- Municipality: Local governments voluntarily opt into PACE; their role is to issue tax liens that provides security to the lender, and collect payments from the owner via an assessment on the property tax bill and remit them to the administrator. A successful PACE program reduces the administrative burden on the municipality.
- Property Owner: The owner decides they need to have an energy efficiency upgrade to the building they own and submits an application to the PACE program. If the owner is unsure of which energy efficiency or green energy upgrade/s would be suitable then they can ask the PACE program for a survey of the building to be carried out by the local contractor, who will provide advice on the best course of action.
- Private Lenders: In the most successful PACE program's the private sector provide the financial investment. This ensures unlimited capital, allowing for hundreds of thousands of buildings to be retrofitted or upgraded. It also provides long-term and reliable investments for the investor with a guaranteed return on investment.
- Local contractor: The local contractor carries out the upgrade to the building. In the initial stages the local contractor may also carry out a survey of the building, recommending which energy efficiency or green energy upgrades would be appropriate for the building.
Once the upgrade has been carried out it is repaid by the property owner through their property taxes. The payments can be spread out over 20-30 years allowing the repayments to be affordable. Often the energy saved, through a new boiler, insulation or new windows, or the energy produced, through solar panels, more than offsets the cost of the repayment. In the event of the property being sold the remaining loan payments become transferable to the new owner, as the financing is tied to the property, not the individual owner.
What will be the impact of Pace?
In BC we’ll need to retrofit a whopping 30,000 homes, 17,000 apartments, and 3 million square metres of commercial space every year until 2050 in order to meet our new provincial climate targets! The development of a robust and thriving PACE program, would have unprecedented potential to deliver the number of retrofits needed, resulting in deep and swift reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, while creating thousands of new green jobs. This could all be achieved without additional government subsidies.
What does B.C. need to do to have a good PACE program?
PACE’s success is directly attributable to two key factors: it is perceived as a valuable financing tool which serves the borrower’s needs, and it creates an engaged private sector market of investors and contractors who all engage in promoting and selling PACE to create business for themselves. Some of the key features of a robust PACE program include:
- Makes PACE available for a broad spectrum of improvements including most energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy projects.
- Typically relies on capital investment from the private sector.
- Is available for both residential and commercial property owners.
- Is available for retrofits and new builds.
- Ensures loans can be tied to the property, and not the individual borrower, such that in the event of a property sale, remaining loan payments become transferable to the new owner.
- Makes financing available for 100% of the projects and is typically administered by third-party, non-governmental organizations that minimize the administrative burden on local municipalities.
- Allows PACE programs to be administered by third-party, non-governmental organizations that minimize the administrative burden on local municipalities.
- Ensure PACE programs are available for retroactive financing for 3-5 years.
Check out this informative video from PACE Nation - who advocate for PACE programs in the US.