PACENation applauds and strongly supports guidance for residential PACE issued today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The guidance clearly shows the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, a bipartisan initiative adopted by 18 states thus far that encourages home owners to make energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to their properties. To date, over 100,000 households have made their homes more valuable, healthier and comfortable using PACE. The nearly $2.25 billion spent has created 22,000 jobs, many of them in the communities that offer PACE, and will save the equivalent of 12.5 billion kWh’s over the life of the measures.
The guidance issued today by HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) sets standards that will allow qualifying homes with PACE assessments to be purchased or refinanced with mortgage products provided by FHA.
By Bracken Hendricks, Urban Ingenuity & Mark Thielking, EnergizeNY
Every day nonprofit community-based institutions work hard to raise money and deliver mission-driven programs and services. Whether providing affordable housing for the homeless, assisting at-risk youth in gaining job skills in public charter schools, or ministering to the conscience of a community in houses of worship, these institutions regularly push their internal capacity and strain their budgets just to advance a public mission of service.
When choosing to install new energy saving technology like more efficient lighting or boilers, or upgrading to renewable energy with solar panels, the choice too often comes down to a trade-off between using scarce capital resources to either upgrade their physical plant or carry out their mission.
Financing building improvements using Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) can enable nonprofits to overcome these upfront cost barriers and easily access capital that is paid for over time through savings on utility bills. PACE offers low interest rates, long terms to minimize payments, and a solid value proposition for mission driven organizations. That’s a good deal not only for the community, but for local clean energy businesses, the regional economy, and our shared environment.
Today, PACE programs in Washington DC and New York State can provide important lessons to help other communities around the nation access these benefits from what we call “Civic PACE”. Both Energize NY and Urban Ingenuity are finding that the nonprofit sector is a huge opportunity for clean energy sector growth. Considered part of the commercial building stock, most nonprofits have underinvested in energy related improvements.
These community-based organizations often have constrained budgets, substantial deferred maintenance challenges, and very large unmet capital investment needs. Nonprofits are typically underserved in debt markets because they have unusual forms of credit or cash flows, making PACE an ideal mechanism to finance building upgrades because it attaches to the land record of the property not the credit of the borrower. For this reason, nonprofit properties frequently have low debt levels, further simplifying PACE underwriting by reducing the need for lender consent to establish a special PACE tax assessment.
Although PACE is a powerful tool for nonprofit institutions, it has not been widely available or accessible to these critical community-based institutions… until now. The cost of capital can be a major factor for institutions that low priced debt. In order to serve this important market, it is essential to structure creative financing solutions that bring down pricing for nonprofits.
With support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, The Solar Foundation, Urban Ingenuity, and Clean Energy Solutions Inc. (CESI) are working with program administrators across the country to open up the nonprofit market beyond Washington DC. Through outreach and collaboration, the team is working to demonstrate the viability of using PACE with HUD-assisted multifamily housing, the value of PACE-secured PPAs for non-profit solar projects, tax-exempt bond financing considerations, and other creative credit enhancements. The team is finding opportunities to build this market to use PACE financing to expand deployment of solar energy and energy efficiency projects for nonprofit organizations, working closely with houses of worship and local Public Housing Authorities in Washington DC, New York, and many other communities around the country to make low-cost, long-dated debt and appropriate equity available for PACE projects.
For example, in the District of Columbia, Urban Ingenuity is currently structuring credit enhancements and tax-exempt PACE capital to bring down interest rates. They are currently closing a tax-exempt PACE note at less than 4% for 20 year debt, representing perhaps the first tax-exempt PACE financing, and demonstrating a new potential opportunity for PACE investment.
In New York, Energize NY has used Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) to bring down the cost of clean energy upgrades to under 3% for 20 year funds, as well as offering direct property owner support to help overcome the capacity gap that is a common barrier to upgrades in this sector. In addition, New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) and other forms of innovative, low-cost capital are available to credit-enhance PACE notes.
Nonprofit owned buildings are not currently well served by solar tax equity markets; these markets are not always transparent for consumers, and the pricing and structure is traditionally designed to benefit the investor and developer, instead of maximizing the flow of resources to advance a non-profit’s mission. The PACE-secured PPA, on the other hand, reduces credit risk, drives transparency in solar markets, and presents improved pricing and terms for customers. DC PACE has proven a “pre-paid PPA” approach, and Energize NY is close to closing three PPA’s with non-profits and others unable to take advantage of federal tax credits.
More broadly, NY State is addressing the challenges facing non-profits and Low and Moderate Income (LMI) housing by supporting Energize NY PACE financing as well as through the State’s energy agency (NYSERDA) and a range of utility initiatives. These efforts combine to form a compelling package that can include direct project support, financing with long-terms and low interest rates, and energy upgrade standards that encourage improvements which provide significant financial gain to LMI housing and other non-profit customers.
The energy burden is disproportionately high for almost all nonprofits and especially for affordable housing owners who struggle with balancing operating needs and serving their mission. Reducing energy costs and consumption make good financial sense for these property owners, and accessing upfront capital to pay for needed project level investments, paid for over time with utility savings, is one key piece of the solution. Now, with PACE, which can be enhanced through QECBs or other tools and paired with direct incentives, nonprofits can access the capital they desperately need to improve their property while saving money to advance their mission, foster public welfare and a higher quality of life while giving back to communities in ways that extend well beyond greening the environment and protecting global climate.
Today, PACENation has released Consumer Protection Policies for the residential property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs. These policies (CPP V1) provide the strongest protections for homeowners using PACE or any other type of financing who want to invest in clean energy and water efficiency upgrades to their properties. They address a homeowner’s eligibility for financing and ability to repay, comprehensive financial disclosures, appropriate contractor conduct, acceptable products and projects (with pricing guidelines), post-funding support, treatment of protected classes, grievance procedures, data security and privacy matters. CPP V1 also emphasizes the operational requirements that PACE programs and financial and administrative service providers must meet to ensure that standards set by these policies are met.
PACENation Executive Director David Gabrielson said, “PACENation’s Consumer Protection Policies create a meet-or-exceed standard that PACENation member organizations should adhere to. When it comes to PACE, nothing is more important than protecting the interests of homeowners, and CPP V1 is designed to do just that.”
PACE financing enables a much broader range of homeowners to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy and water efficiency improvements that increase the value, comfort, functionality, and sustainability of their homes. Such improvements make homes less costly to operate and more comfortable to live in, while simultaneously reducing energy and water consumption. Without PACE Programs many homeowners would not have affordable access to these upgrades. To date, over 80,000 homeowners have used PACE for clean energy and water conservation measures that will save 9.1 billion kWh of energy, 3.4 billion gallons of water, cut carbon emissions by 2.5 million tons, and knock $2.5 billion off homeowner utility bills. It is estimated that the money spent on these projects has created over 13,000 local jobs.
PACE programs, their government sponsors, and the associated parties who help implement them, provide advice, tools and resources that allow homeowners to make smart, informed and responsible choices. PACE programs must therefore be responsible for ensuring that the advice, tools and resources provided are appropriate and accurate. Care must be taken with homeowners before, during and after the origination of program financing. Consumer protections that serve homeowners must be a core value of PACE programs and all associated parties.
CPP V1 is based on standards, developed by PACENation and members who are market leaders. They have already been adopted in substance by PACE programs offered through the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (Alliance NRG, CaliforniaFirst, and PACE Funding) and the Western Riverside Council of Government (HERO). Standards set forth in CPP V1 are also supported in principle by other PACE service and finance providers and by a number of government sponsors of PACE financing.
PACENation is a national, non-profit, organization serving the interests and needs of over 300 member organizations that share a common goal of making PACE financing available to all building owners throughout the United States. PACENation is building a broader PACE network by providing information, resources, and advice to a growing universe of PACE market stakeholders. To learn more, visit http://www.PACENation.us
In this month’s webinar, experts in the fields of PACE and solar will share their thoughts and answer your questions about PACE PPAs. See the event page below for more information, or click here to view the page in a different tab.
PACE or Property Assessed Clean Energy is a financing tool used to pay for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to buildings. PACE was pioneered in 2007 in California and it quickly spread across the USA, Canada and Australia. Globally, the PACE market reached $2 billion in completed commercial and residential projects.
The Investor Confidence Project is enabling a marketplace for building owners, project developers, utilities, public programs and investors to trade in standardized energy efficiency projects. ICP Protocols have been included in several state and utility programs (California, New York, Texas). ICP’s energy efficiency protocols are used in Texas as part of a do-it-yourself toolkit for PACE. The largest USA utility is launching a pilot to accelerate energy efficiency retrofits in existing buildings by providing interest-free loans to energy performance contractors who use ICP’s (IREE) certification.
We’re announcing an all-new resource for PACENation’s members: Monthly PACE Webinars! Each month, these live webinars will feature experts in the PACE market presenting on timely and interesting PACE topics, including informational sessions and new market developments.
Our first webinar, which will focus on PACE for nonprofit-owned buildings, will take place on April 27th from 3:00pm – 4:00pm EST.
In the first economic study of homes with PACE upgrades, three different methodologies and three home price indices were examined and all turned up the same results; PACE is good for the resale value of homes, even after taking into account the financing costs.
The study, conducted by Laurie Goodman, a well-known housing market and industry expert in Washington, D.C., compared data on PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) assessed homes that sold with prices predicted by housing price indices, and a random sample of comparable homes. Houses with PACE assessments surpassed projected appreciation rates and increased the sale value of foreclosed homes as well. It was determined that homes with PACE upgrades have higher net resale values ranging from $199-$8,882 compared to homes without PACE upgrades.
“PACE loans give homeowners a new way to finance loans for energy efficient improvements such as a new air conditioning system, new windows, insulation, solar panels or a water conservation system,” says the study. PACE loans become part of a building’s property tax bill, and are repaid annually or semi-annually when taxes are due. PACE financing has been in practice since 2008, and there are currently 30 states with PACE enabling legislation. More about PACE at http://www.PACENation.us.
“This study gives empirical evidence that PACE-financed improvements increase home values on net, even after taking into account the costs of financing the improvements,” said Renovate America CEO and Founder J.P. McNeill. Renovate America administers the HERO program, a residential PACE provider, based in California.
The authors note that other studies have found that typical home renovations such as bathroom and kitchen remodeling and roof and siding replacements recovered 58-66% of their full costs at the time of sale. In general, PACE projects recovered at least 100% of their full costs, usually more. This result is especially substantial in properties purchased from foreclosure, as the study suggests that PACE improvements increase the projected sale value of foreclosed homes by an average of $6,824.
The study concludes that PACE projects on average, “are able to recover at least their full costs at resale, whereas most other home improvers are only able to recover about 60%”
“These findings are very important because they’re based on actual data from nearly 800 HERO Program PACE improved homes and directly address concerns expressed by mortgage providers,” said David Gabrielson, Executive Director of PACENation, the national advocacy organization for PACE financing.
PACENation is a non-profit foundation funded advocate for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACENation’s mission is to promote improved energy efficiency in buildings and use of PACE. Our strategy is to be a trusted source for information and resources to a growing coalition of PACE stakeholders that includes local governments, businesses, industry service providers, labor and trade organizations, environmental groups and private individuals nationwide. For more information, please visit pacenation.us or info(at)pacenow(dot)org.