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Fayetteville Creates District Aimed At Energy Efficiency

Posted by tbaker |
PACE copy

A group of Arkansas residents — mainly from NWA — at the state capitol where they conducted citizen lobbying for PACE, which passed shortly after.

Becomes First In Arkansas

Staff Report

It was early in 2013 that Arkansas passed legislation that would make way for financing options for “green” building improvements. The Property Assessed Clean Energy bill, or PACE, was meant to allow commercial business owners access to financing options when wanting to improve energy efficiency, from insulation to solar panels.

On Oct. 15, the Fayetteville City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that creates an Energy Improvement District for the City of Fayetteville. The District will be a group of individuals who manage financing programs for renewable energy, energy efficiency and water conservation improvements on commercial and industrial properties at the request of the owner. These financing programs include PACE as a financing option.

Background

PACE is a financing mechanism that allows property owners to borrow money for weatherization, energy efficiency, renewable energy or water conservation improvements to their property. The property owner’s loan will then be tied to their property tax, paying back the loan along with their yearly taxes. If the owner ever sells the property, the new owner would be responsible to finish paying off the loan. The security of tying the repayment of loans to property tax assessments combined with low default rates allow PACE to offer low interest rates for these improvement loans, although no one has said yet what those interest rates will be.

PACE is a completely voluntary program that enables private investment using loans from banks and credit unions for the purpose of energy savings.

PACE enabling legislation was passed by the Arkansas Legislature in the 2013 session and signed by Governor Mike Beebe in April 2013. That legislation allows cities, counties or the state to create Energy Improvement Districts within the State of Arkansas. The Arkansas Legislature noted that Energy Improvement Districts would benefit Arkansas by:

· Creating jobs and stimulating the economy

· Generating significant economic development

· Protecting citizens from the rising cost of electricity and non-renewable fuels

· Providing citizens with options for financing improvements that are otherwise not available

· Providing a positive cash flow on energy improvements

· Increasing the value of real property

· Improving the state’s air quality and conserving natural resources

· Promoting energy independence and security for the nation and state

Fayetteville’s Energy Improvement District

The Energy Improvement District will manage innovative financing programs, including PACE, for renewable energy, energy efficiency and water conservation improvements on residential, commercial, industrial and other real properties at the request of the owner. Fayetteville’s Energy Improvement District will be managed and controlled by a board of seven directors who will at a minimum meet quarterly. One board member will be appointed by Mayor Jordan. The remaining six members will be appointed by the City Council through the normal Boards and Committees selection process. Once the full board is selected by the beginning of 2014, they will begin working to develop the PACE program for Fayetteville.

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