Pennsylvania Considers PACE Financing for Commercial Buildings

Businesses would be able to tap low-cost, local bond financing to pay for clean energy projects at commercial buildings under legislation (SB-234) introduced January 31 by Lackawanna County State Senator John Blake (D-Archbald), The Times-Tribune of Scranton, Pennsylvania reported.

At a press conference at the state Capitol, Senator Blake said that the Act, now gathering bipartisan support, would provide funding to meet pent-up demand to modernize commercial properties by installing solar panels, LED lights, and new heating and cooling systems.

Creating the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) would create jobs, improve property values and reduce business costs, said Senator Blake He teamed up with Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, (R-Pittsburgh), to push the measure through.

“Commercial PACE programs advance energy conservation and clean-energy projects that reduce pollution and promote clean air. Support for the programs is broad and bipartisan, for good reason,” David Masur, executive director of Penn Environment, said in a statement released by Blake’s office, according to The Times of Beaver, Pennsylvania.

Through Senate Bill 234, Pennsylvania can join the growing ranks of states where successful Commercial PACE programs are helping to protect the environment and build healthier communities,” Masur said.

An authority would sell bonds to investors to generate the lending capital to help a business undertake a project. The authority first would do an analysis to determine if a project would bring any savings. The business would repay the long-term loan with a higher property tax assessment set by the authority for a specific improved building.

Senator Blake anticipates a demand for this type of financing in areas with business and commercial parks, reported The Times-Tribune.

There is interest in the program in Philadelphia, which has its own municipal energy authority, and in Pittsburgh, said supporters. Thirty-three states now offer this type of financing.

The measure next will be considered by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, where Senator Mario Scavello, (R- Mount Pocono), the chairman, is a strong supporter, the local news outlet said. Senator Scavello told the newspaper that he had introduced a similar bill when he served in the House.

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