While solar power’s popularity as a form of distributed generation has skyrocketed in recent years, financing for these projects remains a challenge for many property owners.
In the quest to find affordable solutions, many forms of financing emerge. One limitation or another besets all, but each has its advantages for some owners.
One type of financing has managed to survive some major setbacks and is catching on with a particular segment of the commercial sector and solar market: property assessed clean energy (PACE).
According to the advocacy organization, PACENow, momentum is building across the country to adopt commercial PACE programs. According to the group’s website, 31 states have enabling legislation on the books. These laws allow local governments to adopt their own uniquely defined programs.
PACE programs offer a unique form of financing for solar installations by allowing the property owner to finance the installation of photovoltaic panels with no money down and repay the loan through the property tax bill. Obtaining financing is easier for some property owners because the viability of the loan is closely linked to the value of the property, rather than the individual property owner’s credit.
Residential PACE programs have stalled in many communities with opposition from lenders and the secondary mortgage market, due to concerns about how tax liens would affect the home mortgage. Commercial PACE programs do not face the same resistance.
According to PACENow, the original pioneering programs in California and Colorado have already financed 71 commercial projects. The organization also highlights programs in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
Some local commercial PACE programs recently highlighted by PACENow are in Simi Valley; South Lake Tahoe, Calif.; and St. Lucie County, Fla.