PACE Forges Ahead in Texas

Houston City Council adopts PACE-in-a-Box;

first project approved in Travis County 

By Ross Pumfrey

Texas’ innovative financing approach for renewable energy, efficiency, and water conservation took two giant strides over the past two months.

First, on November 4 the City of Houston became the second local government in Texas to approve a PACE, or “property-assisted clean energy,” program.

PACE is an innovative financing approach that enables owners of commercial and industrial properties to take out long-term, low-cost loans from private lenders for installations of renewable energy, efficiency, and water conservation technology and pay them back through a voluntary assessment on their property.

Keeping PACE in Texas spearheaded the effort leading to passage of a state law in 2013 enabling local governments to develop such programs. That PACE organization subsequently worked with volunteers from various relevant sectors (energy, water, banking, other business, and local government) to develop a model ordinance, called “PACE-in-a-Box.”

Houston adopted the model ordinance, as Travis County had done previously done in March.

In the second piece of big news, on December 22 the Texas PACE Authority, which administers Travis County’s program, announced the first PACE project in the state.  A company that prefers to remain anonymous will use the PACE mechanism to carry out $1.2 million in water conservation, mechanical, and lighting retrofits at one of Austin’s major shopping malls.

Although this first project does not include solar energy, PACE staff has told the Texas Solar Energy Society that several projects in the Travis pipeline do include installation of solar panels.

A 2013 Texas law allows municipalities and counties to adopt PACE programs, and Keeping PACE in Texas, the organization that has led the effort, generated Pace-in-a-Box—a model ordinance that cities and counties are encouraged to use.

Other local governments in the state are expected to follow the trail blazed by Travis County and the City of Houston. A workshop last August in the Lower Rio Grande Valley sparked the interest of at least two counties—Cameron and Willacy—and their respective commissioners courts are expected to vote on adopting PACE-in-the-Box in January 2016. Then, adoption by the City of Dallas is “on the horizon,” said Charlene Heydinger, executive director of Keeping PACE in Texas.

Readers of this newsletter who live in Willacy or Cameron Counties, or in the City of Dallas, are encouraged to communicate their support to their local elected officials.


 

Ross Pumfrey is Vice-Chairman of NBA官方买球APP and recently retired from a long career in renewable energy on the state, national and international levels.