The largest opportunity for capturing additional efficiency is the upgrade of existing buildings, which consume approximately 40% of all energy in the state. Although many energy efficiency measures could save customers money over the long term (while providing improved health and comfort benefits), the up-front cost is a barrier to more rapid and widespread adoption of cost-effective solutions in existing buildings. There are many paths to financing energy efficiency retrofits. The specific financing strategies described here are not meant to be an all-inclusive list. Consumers should have multiple options open to them to make financing retrofits as easy as possible.
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a mechanism to help building owners access long-term financing for clean energy and energy efficiency upgrades on their buildings. Texas passed HB 1937 in 2009 and SB 385 in 2013, enabling local governments to create PACE Districts. Commercial PACE is expected to be available in many Texas cities in 2015.
SPEER is currently working with the Texas State Energy Conservation Office and Keeping PACE in Texas, among other organizations, to help local governments adopt PACE districts and successfully implement PACE programs. By providing workshops and technical assistance to counties, cities and Councils of Governments (COGs), SPEER is available to answer questions to help get PACE programs started. The Keeping PACE in Texas toolkit, PACE in a BOX, also provides comprehensive information and model documents to help local governments launch a PACE program.
If you are a local government looking to get started with PACE, or are a business or lender who knows of a good PACE project, please contact us for individual assistance to move forward.
SPEER hosted a PACE in Texas 101 Webinar on November 18, 2014, the presentations and the webinar recording are linked below.
PACE in Texas 101
Advancing PACE in Texas
The Lean & Green Michigan Approach to PACE
Sustaining Ohio Communities, Businesses & Energy
Listen to a recording of the webinar.
SPEER hosted a PACE in Texas and Beyond Webinar on December 10, 2014, the presentation and the webinar recording are linked below.
Commercial PACE in Texas and Beyond: A Deeper Dive into Program Administration
Listen to a recording of the webinar.
More about PACE
PACE programs allow building owners to access financing for energy upgrades that are cash-flow positive because they do not have to wait years for a return on investment. The PACE office coordinates placing a special assessment on a building property that is recorded in the county records and creates a senior lien. This assessment makes lenders secure in their investment and willing to finance at lower interest rates. Because the assessment is on the property, building owners are able to transfer the assessment when they sell their building, meaning building owners get the savings while they were in the building, but do not have to keep paying the assessment once they have sold the property.
PACE helps overcome the challenges that typically inhibit energy efficiency investments by making capital available, getting rid of upfront costs, and creating a positive return on investment through every savings from day one.
More Resources on PACE:
Department of Energy: Overview of Steps to Launch Commercial PACE
PaceNow.Org: Resources Page
Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans (WHEEL)
WHEEL is a turnkey financing platform that provides low-cost capital to homeowners for energy efficiency and water conservation improvements. States participate in the WHEEL platform by co-investing with institutional investors. Public dollars are leveraged five to one and enable qualifying contractors to offer lower-cost financing to homeowners for eligible energy and water improvements. Participating WHEEL states include Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, New York, and Virginia.
WHEEL is based on Pennsylvania’s successful Keystone HELP loan program, which was launched in 2006 and has so far benefitted over 13,500 homeowners. By working together, states that participate in WHEEL get to enjoy various economies of scale, such as increased leverage and lower financing costs for homeowners.
WHEEL is a market-driven financing solution specifically designed to support contractors who upgrade homes. The target market is homeowners financing home energy and water improvements. There is a “kitchen counter” approval process and interest rates of 7.99 for up to 10 years. Eligible measures would include appliances and fixtures, heating and cooling measures, windows and doors, air sealing and insulation, water efficiency and conservation.
WHEEL is not yet available to Texas or Oklahoma homeowners. SPEER is working to make this financing tool available.
PACE financing is not available for residential customers in Texas as the present time. SPEER Member Renovate America has financed $500 million in residential energy improvements—in other states. SPEER aims to make this financing tool available to Texans and Oklahomans as well.