By Racquel Palmese
California’s built environment is like a bank holding millions of dollars, megawatts of power and millions of gallons of water, all waiting to be tapped and captured. With statewide and local mandates calling for massive cuts in energy and water usage over the next decade, ways need to be found to save every amp of electricity, drop of water and every penny that goes towards these commodities.
Riding into the state’s cities and counties on white horses are organizations providing a new type of energy and water efficiency and renewable energy financing for existing buildings. It’s called PACE, Property Assessed Clean Energy. PACE offers investors the safety of having their money collected and returned with interest by the safest means possible - property taxes. It offers building and homeowners low interest loans for energy and water upgrades spread out for as many as 20 years on their tax bills – to say nothing of the savings they receive on their water and electric bills.
At this year’s Green California Summit, various approaches to PACE financing will be explored in depth [see accompanying article on Ygrene Fund]. The Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) has implemented the nation’s largest regional energy and water efficiency program for some 13,500 residential and business properties through their PACE program. The program is backed by $325 million in private investment capital.
EnergyUpgrade California’s PACE program is an alliance among California counties, cities, nonprofit organizations, investor-owned utilities and publicly owned utilities. It leverages more than $1.2 billion in investments.
There are many PACE models, and stakeholders may shy away from exploring PACE due to confusion about which may be appropriate for their city or county. A session covering new PACE products that can minimize risks to lenders and municipalities, as well as opportunities to develop energy retrofit financing for schools and local governments will help clarify what’s available. It will also update attendees about legal wrangling at the state and federal level over PACE financing.
Job creation and local economic stimulus are obvious benefits of large-scale energy efficiency upgrades. The construction industry, especially, benefits as thousands of jobs are added to local economies. Another driver is technology innovation, as new products and services are developed to accommodate energy and water upgrades and renewable energy modalities. Ygrene Funding’s PACE session will cover the economic benefits to municipalities and counties that become PACE districts as well as its unique financing model.
When Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson traveled to the White House to be recognized as one of five cities in the US to take up the President’s Better Buildings Challenge, he was armed with $100 million in PACE investment through Ygrene funding. He joined 59 other mayors, university presidents, CEOs and labor leaders to announce $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next 2 years. What that means for Sacramento’s $100 million PACE investment are an estimated 1,500 new jobs and about $250 million in economic stimulus to the local economy.
To register for these sessions at the Summit, click here.