In the last post, we described the essential features of the program as laid out in the legislation.
The next section addresses “Local C-PACE program[s].” This is somewhat ambiguous because all NJ C-PACE programs require a local ordinance; but in this context, a “local program” is one established by a municipality to handle the administrative process itself, instead of simply opting into the NJEDA program. Only municipalities in the top one-third of NJ’s municipalities by population and counties are eligible to do this. And all local programs must effectively be identical to NJEDA’s in establishing project eligibility requirements, etc.
In keeping with NJ’s philosophy of Home Rule, towns within counties that create C-PACE programs must still “opt in” to the county program if they wish to participate in it. If they do not, then administrative responsibility reverts to the NJEDA. The EDA also has final say over the creation of any local program.
Towns and counties that establish programs are authorized to:
(1) Enter into contracts for any aspect of the program except the reporting requirement;
(2) In addition to direct financing by independent cap[ital providers, “offer financing of C-PACE projects through the issuance of bonds”;
(3) Include additional provisions, as long as they not incompatible with NJEDA guidelines.
Allowing the larger towns and counties the option of creating their own programs potentially accelerates approvals, if the NJEDA is unable to expedite its administrative process.
Perhaps more importantly, though, local programs can also include marketing and communications to ensure that the availability of the program is known in the commercial property owner community. The experience in other states is that program uptake is slow because so few property owners know about or understand the program.
Through the publication of this series of short articles and other actions, NJPACE is committed to making the programs as widely known and understood as possible. Otherwise, it is unlikely to meet climate-related emissions-reduction goals or benefit a significant number of property owners.
*This is a layperson’s interpretation of the statute and should not be construed as legal advice or relied upon without consulting a qualified attorney.