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PACE Financing: The Easy Choice In Solar Financing

PACE Financing: The Easy Choice In Solar Financing

 

The days of leasing solar panels or other clean energy systems are over! Today’s solar adopters benefit from new and improved ways to reduce (or eliminate) up-front costs and make the most of their investment in renewable energy sources. For those who prefer not to purchase solar panels or other energy efficient improvements outright, PACE financing programs offer an easy and effective way to pay for energy improvements to home and commercial building owners alike. 

PACE Programs: The Basics

Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs allow property owners to secure funding for energy improvements by leveraging equity in their property. Local or state governments, or other authorities authorized by state law, authorize the program in their jurisdictions. Funding is provided by third-party companies who raise funds through investors. These funds are then paid back over time, generally within 10 to 20 years, by the owner of the residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural property. Payments are made through a property assessment secured by the property itself and added to the owner’s property tax bill.

The availability of this kind of financing, which is based on the “improvement district” model in which local governments issue bonds for public improvements, offers major benefits to property owners. PACE provides 100% financing for a variety of energy improvements, including solar panels or wind turbines, insulation, heating or cooling systems, and water pumps. By removing the up-front costs of these improvements, the PACE program enables property owners to save money while increasing the value of their property and decreasing its environmental impact.

Property Owners Benefit from PACE

Many homeowners I speak with dream of cutting the cord and producing their own energy independent of utility companies, but are put off by potentially high equipment and installation costs. Luckily for them, the PACE financing program for homeowners eliminates this barrier to entry, making it possible to achieve their energy savings goals. With 100% financing that includes fees and installation costs, homeowners can immediately benefit from the lower utility bills that result from solar panel installation, upgraded HVAC systems, or improved insulation.

In addition to comprehensive financing, PACE repayment periods are long-term and can extend for up to 20 years. In some cases, this means homeowners can save more on energy costs than they are paying annually for their energy improvements, resulting in more cash-in-pocket in the first year and beyond. Financing is tied to property value, not the owner’s credit, and the loan stays with the property if it is sold prior to repayment and can easily be transferred to subsequent owners of the property. This reduces the risk of making energy improvements for homeowners who may not plan on staying put for the entire term of repayment. PACE financing is yet another reason to consider an off-the-grid, passive solar home within your reach!

For owners of commercial, industrial, or agricultural property, an additional benefit of PACE financing is that it can be passed on to tenants under most lease forms, solving split incentives and potentially resulting in lower payments alongside energy savings. Also, the loan repayment doesn’t appear on the property owner’s balance sheet. All property owners reap the benefits of increased property values due to energy efficiency improvements.

Communities Benefit from PACE

Property owners aren’t the only people who are helped by PACE financing programs. Communities benefit from additional economic development opportunities, job creation, and environmental protection driven by financially viable energy improvements. Employment in the solar industry has seen a substantial boom over the last several years, growing at 20% annually from 2012-2015 and 25% from 2015 to 2016. Communities in which PACE financing is available can expect to generate new employment opportunities all while helping preserve the environment for future generations.

Availability of PACE Financing

Since PACE financing is a function of state and local governments, not all property owners and communities can currently experience its benefits. In the Midwest, PACE programs are available in Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Both Illinois and Nebraska are PACE-enabled, although there are currently no active programs. Property owners can check this map of PACE programs to find out which communities in their area offer PACE financing.

The PACE Act of 2017

PACE financing benefits property owners and their communities alike by providing an easy way to finance energy improvements that enhance local economies and the environment. Advocates for solar and other clean energy methods support PACE financing for removing the barrier to entry that keeps many property owners from investing in renewable and efficient energy sources. Unfortunately, a recent legislative challenge may put the future of PACE programs in jeopardy.

The PACE Act of 2017 was recently introduced by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. While it claims to protect consumers, in truth it is the result of a banking lobby that would like to see PACE financing eliminated from the competition. The Natural Resources Defense Council says that this legislation “completely mischaracterizes” PACE programs, is “poorly considered,” and “risks shutting down these popular… programs.” If you would like to stand up for PACE financing programs, PACENation provides an easy platform for making your voice heard in the ongoing fight to provide easy and efficient financing options for important energy improvements.

To learn how Solar Design Studio can partner with you and a PACE financing program to make your solar goals a reality, contact us today!

 

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What Our Clients Are Saying

I have researched adding PV to my home for several years and have met with several PV providers in the KC area and they tend to fall into two broad categories, the new and low budget operators who got into this to ride the wave and are not that knowledgeable, and the commercial providers who have little interest in working with a homeowner and are geared to providing a much larger system where some economy of scale must come into play. Both my wife and I are architects and we wanted something different and it was challenging to find someone who was interested in doing something out of the ordinary. Neither or those types were interested in working with us as we were trying to create something a bit different. they each wanted to sell us their pre-configured solutions.

 

Fortunately we found Bob Solger. He has been a delight to work with and is incredibly knowledgeable and responsive. We wanted to create a solar carport that would provide cover and protection for our cars, but would also provide shade over part of our patio. In essence, the big idea was to create an outdoor pavilion, when, if we wanted to entertain we could move the cars out of the way and have a large covered area for an outdoor gathering. We had selected the Lumos brand of solar panels as they have a very clean look and are partially transparent so some light filters through the panels creating a mottled light pattern on the ground, similar to the shading from a tree. In addition, the system is set up to hide the majority of the connecting wires in the support beams so when you look up at the underside of the PV roof you see a very clean look. Bob recognized our goal and worked with us to ensure the project’s success. Bob identified a structural engineer to design an elegant support structure and found a fabricator to build it affordably. Finally he connected us with a contracting team to clear the space, provide the footings, retaining walls, and pad, who were every bit as careful with everything as you would hope. They were amazingly accommodating to every request and understood that there were a lot of competing challenges that needed to be resolved so we could fit this all in to a very tight location and make it look like it belongs.

 

The bottom line is that it all turned out better than we could have hoped and while it did cost more than the low ball bids received from some of the low budget operators, it was less than the commercially focused suppliers, and more importantly we got the design we wanted and a well-constructed PV carport that will give us great delight for years to come. The best part is of course the savings on our electric bill, which thus far has been averaging around $200/month. So not only do we have a new carport and entertainment patio that our neighbors have been stopping by and admiring (which given that we live in the older Brookside neighborhood and our PV carport is quite modern, we were much relieved) but, our electric bills have been in the under $10/month range.

 

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Bob and his knowledge and team for helping to create an amazing PV carport for us. I’m sure you would be delighted with whatever you engage him to help you with.

Dev & Sue Malik

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