PACE program seeks to spur investment in clean, efficient energy across Maryland

Maryland counties are increasingly signing on to an unorthodox program that makes it easier for owners of large office buildings and warehouses to pay for green energy projects.

Under recently enacted ordinances, companies in Baltimore, Harford, Howard counties and Baltimore City can agree to pay more in property taxes to finance solar panels, for example, or energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. The governments would pass the payments along to lenders that front the costs for the improvements.

Known as PACE — which stands for Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing — such programs have spurred $280 million in clean and efficient energy improvement projects around the country. Anne Arundel County was among the first of what are now 11 Maryland jurisdictions that have authorized PACE, and Maryland is among 19 states and the District of Columbia that have active PACE lending programs.

The arrangement aims to encourage energy-saving investments that otherwise wouldn’t happen because the loans are considered too risky by lenders or charge interest rates too high for borrowers to handle. Folding project costs into property tax bills gives lenders much stronger legal footing to go after delinquent borrowers, and that security allows them to charge lower interest rates over longer periods — about 6 percent over 20 years, for example.

Read more (The Baltimore Sun)