Guest Blog Post: PACE Financing Update for Virginia

Since our last post about PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) in Virginia, we continue to move the needle forward on PACE financing in our state. In early April, Virginia Community Capital released the final recommendations from our Oak Hill Fund grant.

Although we concluded that a statewide program administrator would be the ideal solution to ensure rapid advancement of PACE in Virginia, we also concluded that there is no known existing funding to support the creation of statewide program administrator. However, Abacus Property Solutions assisted the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) in responding to a Department of Energy State Energy Program (SEP) grant that, if awarded, would provide Virginia and partner states, Maryland and District of Columbia, with $500,000 in PACE funding across our region. This three-year grant would help seed and develop statewide PACE efforts including:

  1. Develop standardized, and low-cost program design and administrative structures throughout the region;
  2. Increase market awareness of PACE through coordinated outreach to and education of key stakeholder groups whose participation in PACE will accelerate its adoption and growth in the region.

iStock_000014433293SmallIf awarded, the DOE grant would address specifically administrative structure, owner eligibility, financial underwriting guidelines, energy audit and measurement & verification requirements, contractor training and support, capital provider support, and marketing messages and strategy. The VAEEC would receive a portion of this funding from this DOE/DMME grant to implement some of the work in the grant.

We feel that our response was strong due to our regional approach across three states and the problem that we are solving with a standardized model. DMME should know by late August or early September 2016 if we were awarded the grant, with funding provided by mid fall.

In the interim, the grant recommendations included the notion that VAEEC develop a comprehensive local government and energy contractor PACE education and outreach effort and offer technical assistance to local governments interested in PACE. An additional recommended task is to build grassroots efforts to compel localities to create PACE programs. The VAEEC is well positioned to build a grassroots campaign of energy service companies, clean energy advocates and property owners in local jurisdictions.

In late February, Arlington County issued a RFP to select a third party PACE program administrator. The creation of a PACE program in Arlington with a third party administrator creates another path forward to advance PACE in Virginia. Other localities can replicate the Arlington model, which calls for a third party to run their program and be paid from origination fees.RIC skyline night

Finally, in late March 2016, the Richmond City Council passed a resolution calling for the Chief Administrative Officer to submit a proposal to City Council by January 31, 2017, with recommendations for creating a PACE program. The city is now forming a PACE stakeholder group and will study the Arlington model as part of its work plan to develop recommendations for implementing a PACE program.

Guest Blogger: Abby Johnson, Abacus Property Solutions (VAEEC Member – Individual)

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