Thursday, April 19, 2018

House Committee Holds Hearing On Bipartisan Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing Program

The House Commerce Committee Wednesday held a hearing on Senate Bill 234 (Blake-D, Reschenthaler-R) that authorizes local governments to create energy improvement districts to help fund energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation projects for commercial, agricultural and industrial buildings to reduce their operating costs (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).
Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) and Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny), the bipartisan sponsors of the bill, provided an overview of the commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program created by the legislation.
They noted the C-PACE program overcomes some of the challenges of energy efficiency financing and does not cost taxpayers a dime noting that financing is coming from private, not public, institutions.  
They said the program will create jobs, lower energy costs and increase competitiveness, all while improving the environment.
Julian Boggs, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, supports the legislation because it will help further grow the energy efficiency industry in Pennsylvania by lowering the barriers preventing commercial property owners from making efficiency investments.
He noted similar commercial programs have been authorized in over 30 other states.
Greg McQuaide, CFO of Miller Electric Construction on behalf of the National Electric Contractors Association, encouraged adoption of the legislation.
He said the funding mechanism created in the bill is attractive to customers because it requires little or no upfront capital.
Ben Taube, Ygrene Energy Fund, said he projects, based on his experience in other states with similar programs, that adopting a residential PACE Program in Pennsylvania could create approximately $800 million of new economic investime in the state over the next few years.
He said R-PACE, which is not now included in the bill, has been one of the most successful, fastest growing energy saving programs in the country.  He also listed a series of myths and facts about the program dealing with concerns expressed by lending institutions and others.
Elizabeth Marx, Pennsylvania Utility Law Project, expressed concerns about authorizing PACE for residential properties because of reports homeowners have not been properly educated about the terms of the loan.
Olaf Hasse, F&M Trust on behalf of the PA Bankers Association, expressed concerns about PACE since the entities doing the financing are not regulated by the same laws and agencies as banks for commercial and residential lending.
Aaron Kraus, Greenworks Lending, the largest commercial PACE provider in the country, provided an overview of the relationship-based process they use to offer PACE loans.
Jim Lauckner, Chester County Economic Development Council, said his organization, which promotes the growth of smart energy industry through workforce development, would like to see the PACE program adopted into law because it provides a better tool to finance energy efficiency improvements.
Khari Mosley, Blue Green Alliance, said his group supports Senate Bill 234 because it represents a great opportunity to create and sustain quality jobs.  He noted Pennsylvania is now an island without PACE. Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey and New York have already adopted PACE funding initiative.
Written testimony was also provided by Groups Opposed To Residential PACE, Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association supporting the bill and PACENation supporting Commercial PACE.
Rep. Brian Ellis (R-Butler), Majority Chair of the Committee, said his intention is to vote on the bill in Committee on May 1.  Rep. Ellis can be contacted at 717-787-7686 or by sending email to:
Rep. Curtis Thomas (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted at 717-787-9471 or by sending email to:
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