Along with the State Budget, and a hundred or so other bills, the final version of the PACE amending bill (A2579/S1510) passed with large bipartisan majorities in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature on Thursday (June 25, 2015). In the Senate, the vote was 36 to 1. In the Assembly, it was 63 to 9. It now goes to the Governor’s desk for signature.
In our view this is a historic event for the state, with economic development benefits for all of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities that choose to approve the ordinance enabling their local program. We are already receiving pre-applications for project funding, and reaching out to those municipalities where the projects are going to be located.
And if the experience in California and Connecticut is replicated, there will be a rapidly accelerating level of program adoption. Several established companies — including AllianceNRG, Renovate America, and Ygrene — are committed to entering the NJ market, with a significant focus on residential as well as commercial PACE programs. Such programs will likely attract hundreds of millions of dollar of new investment in the state’s aging built environment, expanding opportunities for local contractors and creating a wide range of jobs, as well as making buildings more resilient and efficient, and significantly reducing carbon and other pollution.
Most PACE programs, including ours, focus on clean energy improvements, including retrofits, renewables, CHP, and microgrids; but NJ’s programs will also include “resiliency improvements,” including hurricane-resistant construction, flood proofing, water management, and shelters, which will significantly expand the demand for project financing.
Our role as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit has been to educate the stakeholders — property owners, contractors, local government officials, lending institutions, and investors — about the potential, and to offer an open-market platform for projects anywhere in New Jersey, especially in underserved markets.
Municipalities are key players in the growth of PACE in New Jersey; they play a critical role in registering the property assessments, authorizing and inspecting the projects, and collecting and forwarding the assessment payments. But they’re not energy experts, and not necessarily equipped to review the technical aspects of every project, nor to arrange the necessary financing. This is why private entities as well as community nonprofits such as ours are needed to evaluate and approve projects, and arrange financing where that’s needed.
Commercial projects tend to be more complex and require individual attention; they’re also where a small organization like ours can have the biggest impact, in terms of dollars brought into a community. But we’re excited to see Residential PACE programs become available in New Jersey, and we’re exploring innovative options for ensuring that such programs also reach low-income neighborhoods. Stay tuned for more developments….