Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Senators Unveil Bill To Encourage Energy Efficiency Thru Local Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs

Senators John Blake (D-Lackawanna) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny) Tuesday joined a diverse group of stakeholders from the business, labor and environmental communities to unveil their bipartisan legislation that would generate significant economic development, create jobs and enhance Pennsylvania’s clean energy portfolio.
Senate Bill 234 (not online yet) would establish Pennsylvania’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program which is a financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades to commercial or industrial properties.
“The Property Assessed Clean Energy program is a proven-successful economic development tool that enhances property values and employment opportunities; lowers the cost of doing business; and expands the use of energy saving technologies,” Sen. Blake said. “Our legislation would give Pennsylvania businesses an opportunity to make costly energy-saving upgrades with a creative, market-driven funding mechanism that does not spend a dime of taxpayer money.”
Under Senate Bill 234, PACE financing – which can be used to purchase new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps and insulation – would be repaid in the form of a voluntary property tax assessment on the specific, improved building.
“PACE is a commonsense, voluntary program, that doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny. PACE increases the use of energy-saving and environmentally-conscious technology, saves businesses money, and will create family-sustaining jobs throughout the commonwealth because of sales and installations,” Sen. Reschenthaler added. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and the dozens of organizations that support the proposed PACE legislation.”
A local government would be able to choose to participate in or develop a PACE financing program.
PACE financing would not require any public funds; participating local communities would be tasked with collecting the assessment on the improved building and remit it for payment on the debt incurred from the building’s energy-efficiency and clean energy technology upgrades.
“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, PennEnvironment Executive Director, said. “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.”
Currently, 33 states plus the District of Columbia authorize PACE financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Some of the states utilizing the PACE program include Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas.
“Commercial PACE is expanding across the country because it makes good business sense. Enabling commercial properties to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy will produce long-term energy savings and create local jobs,” Matt Elliot, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance executive director, said. “We applaud Senator Blake and Senator Reschenthaler for their legislation to help Pennsylvania communities leverage the potential of commercial PACE.”
The legislation was introduced by Sen. Blake in the prior legislative session as Senate Bill 1069, but it did not move from the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee.
Senators Blake and Reschenthaler, both members of the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee in the current legislative session, are confident that the bill will receive full Senate consideration in the current session.
"We applaud the efforts of Senator Blake and Senator Reschenthaler to reduce energy use in Pennsylvania's commercial and industrial buildings,” Dewitt Walton, Special Assistant to the International President of the United Steelworkers, added. “PACE will create good jobs with family supporting wages and benefits, provide a boost for areas of the state that have faced economic challenges and help workers seeking careers in new and emerging industries."
For more information on the PACE initiative nationally, visit the PACENation website.
Related Story:
PEC Opposes Reschenthaler Bill Not Allowing PA To Set Its Own Limits On Methane Emissions

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