Property-Assessed Clean Energy
Property-assessed clean energy (PACE) helps home and business owners finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their property. PACE is a voluntary program in which a home or business owner will receive financing from a local government to cover the up-front cost of qualified energy improvements, and in exchange, will repay the up-front cost through a special assessment on their property tax over a period of years or decades. The financing is secured with a lien on the property. This means that in the event of a foreclosure, the financing must be repaid before other claims against the property. The repayment obligation also remains with the property, so if a solar customer sells their home, the new owners simply take responsibility for the remaining payments as well as ownership of the solar array.
Benefits of PACE Financing
Eligible projects include energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, weather sealing and high-efficiency water heaters as well as solar and other on-site renewable energy systems. PACE spreads the cost of these energy improvements over the lifetime of the project.
PACE has several benefits with respect to solar energy. In some areas, it helps meet the high demand for solar consumer financing. In particular, the long-term financing aspect is crucial to eliminating the up-front cost barrier to solar energy projects. PACE can both increase property values and save consumers money by reducing energy costs.
PACE Programs Have Been a Success
Multiple PACE pilot programs have demonstrated that PACE properties have lower foreclosure rates, increased energy savings and provided other benefits consistent with the initiative's overall policy objectives. Initiated as pilot programs starting in 2008, today 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed PACE-enabling legislation, and 19 states plus DC have operating PACE programs.
SEIA supports widespread adoption of the PACE financing model with appropriate safeguards to protect property owners and leaseholders.
In November 2016, SEIA released a whitepaper titled "Expanding Solar Deployment Opportunities in the C&I Sector" which explored PACE financing as it relates to commercial and industrial systems. SEIA also offers a matrix with critical info and links to all PACE programs in the U.S.
In July 2016, the White House released a new initiative called "Clean Energy Savings for All Americans", which aims to bring one gigawatt of solar energy to lower and middle-income communities by 2020. The staple of this program is an issuance of new, clear guidance for usage of PACE financing, which SEIA's interim President Tom Kimbis details in this blog post.
In September 2012, SEIA worked with VoteSolar, Renewable Funding, and others to submit joint comments to the FHFA on the Proposed Rulemaking on PACE programs.
Property-Assessed Clean Energy Links
- Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) - a resource page on PACE financing programs from the DOE, with information on how to set up a PACE program, a policy framework document, and webinars on a variety of PACE-related topics
- PACENation Coalition - a group of independent supporters providing talking points, research, and updates on PACE activity throughout the U.S.
- PACENation Map of existing programs throughout the U.S.