Slow PACE for energy efficiency retrofits
A program the state approved three years ago makes it easier and cheaper for consumers and businesses to pay for energy-efficiency retrofits. Why is it taking so long to get off the ground?
So far, however, consumers have been slow to warm to PACE. This summer, the Ygrene Energy Fund closed the first PACE deal in the state, involving a commercial property owned by urban development company Barlington Group, which spent $60,000 on impact-resistant glass and energy-efficient storefronts, windows and doors. The company didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Ygrene has also finalized the state’s first PACE residential deal. Steven Dan, who owns a home in the town of Pinecrest, used PACE to pay for a new attic insulation called icynene [“The First Homeowner”].
The other two PACE districts have yet to close a deal, however. Wallander, of EcoCity Partners, hopes one deal will close by the end of the year. On a typical $30,000 deal, EcoCity will make about $750.
Meanwhile, the administrator firms continue marketing themselves to municipalities, with barrages of competing claims. The SAIC-run Florida PACE Funding Agency says it is the “only one” offering residential loans, but the Ygrene-run Florida Green Corridor says not only is it working with residential customers, but it also has closed the first residential PACE deal. The Florida PACE Funding Agency issued a news release earlier this year saying it has secured $500 million in financing from Samas Capital but said in an August interview that Samas hasn’t actually raised that $500 million yet.
Ygrene received national media attention from outlets like the New York Times when it announced a financing partnership with Barclays Capital in 2011. Now, Ygrene says the Barclays relationship is over and it is backed instead by “a range of local and international financial partners.”
The PACE providers agree on one thing: Now that PACE deals have started closing, this fall could be a tipping point, the moment the program will either gain momentum and begin helping solve one of the renewable energy industry’s biggest financial challenges — or just become another good idea that didn’t work.