Earlier this year, the state of California announced a $10 million loan-loss reserve to solve the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s severe restrictions on using property-tax based financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy on residential property. It’s a great concept, but evidence from on of California’s best property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs suggests the reserve… Continue reading
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This new resource shares real world examples of public savings directly connected to municipal networks. Publicly owned broadband networks provide opportunities for local savings to taxpayers. Local and regional governments find new and unexpected ways to cut costs when they build their own next-generation networks. In addition to saving connectivity fees for administrative facilities, local… Continue reading
One strategy to boost solar and lower its cost is to include it in new or substantially retrofitted buildings. Several states now offer the option or requirement to include solar on new public buildings. Continue reading
The New York Times reports that on August 7 a federal judge approved a settlement between the Justice Department and Morgan Stanley. Here’s the crime. In 2006 Morgan Stanley entered into a complex swap agreement with the New York electricity company KeySpan that gave it a stake in the profits of a competitor, enabling both… Continue reading
When communities are trying to figure out how to pay for networks, they sometimes fail to explore some logical places. A recent article on Telecompetitor gives us an estimate for revenues from inserting ads in cable television programming. Before the economic downturn, a typical small video service provider could expect between $1.25 and $2.00 a… Continue reading
After effectively suspending residential PACE energy efficiency and renewable energy municipal financing programs in 2010 and then being taken to federal court and required to do a revised rule making, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its revised ruling on PACE programs [pdf] today. Did they repent from their 2010 assertion that PACE presented… Continue reading
Chattanooga’s EPBFi community fiber network has been one of the most celebrated muni networks in the nation. They were the first to offer a gigabit to anyone in the city and have launched a bo… Continue reading
With state enabling legislation, cities and counties are being given the authority to establish municipal financing programs for clean energy and energy efficiency investments in their communities. Commonly referred to as property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, it allows homeowners and businesses to implement dramatic improvements in efficiency and/or renewable energy and repay those investments over a long-term via a special property tax assessment or via a utility bill. Continue reading
Provo built a city owned FTTH network after its public power utility started connecting its substations with fiber-optic cables in the early 2000’s. iProvo ultimately developed along similar o… Continue reading
Property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing launched three years ago with great promise. The premise was simple: pay for building energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy with long-term property tax assessments, aligning payback periods and financing terms. The residential program’s rapid expansion came to a screeching halt in mid-2010 when the Federal Housing Finance Agency told lenders that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would not buy mortgages with PACE assessments on them.
Commercial PACE was left alive, and programs for business and industry are finally getting scale.
In September, the Carbon War Room announced a business consortium would provide $650 million in financing for commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements for two regions: Sacramento, CA, and Miami, FL. San Francisco announced a similar program in October, with $100 million in private funding. For comparison, the largest operational PACE program to date in Sonoma County, CA, has completed $50 million in retrofits.
An interesting difference in the new programs is that they inject private capital into PACE programs that were often envisioned as publicly financed (e.g. using municipal revenue bonds). It’s a welcome development, however, since public sector programs had grown slowly – if at all – since the FHFA decision to curtail residential financing.
The opportunity in commercial PACE alone is enormous. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimates that building energy consumption could be cut by 15-20% in the United States with the right technologies and tools. Since buildings represent 40% of energy use, beefed up commercial PACE activity could be a big step in the right direction.
For more on the residential program and attempts to revive it, visit PACENOW.org.