C-PACE: Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy
Colorado has created a statewide PACE program that allows property owners to finance 100% of the up-front costs of an energy efficiency, renewable energy, or water conservation improvement. Property owners repay the financing as a special assessment on their property tax bill over the financing term, up to 20 years. Typically, the annual energy savings exceed annual assessments, making PACE projects cash flow positive from the first year. C-PACE funding is available to commercial, industrial, agricultural, non-profit and multifamily properties. New construction may use PACE financing for up to 20% of the total construction costs when designing and building energy efficiency measures beyond what is required by the existing code.
C-PACE is administered by Sustainable Real Estate Solutions SRS on behalf of the state New Energy Improvement District (NEID), which was authorized by HB 10-1328 (and amended by SB 13-1212 and SB 16-171). NEID by statute is governed by a Board of Directors that includes representatives from the Colorado Energy Office, real estate development, banking, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and public utilities. Counties must opt in to the program through a participation agreement with the NEID in order to make C-PACE financing available to properties located within the county. Counties are responsible for collecting assessment payments and remitting those payments to NEID in order to distribute repayments to the original capital provider. To cover the costs of these services, counties may leverage a 1% servicing fee, usually included in the total financed amount and repaid over the course of the financing. Boulder and Adams are participating in the C-PACE program, and several others are in discussions with NEID (as of June 2016: Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Eagle, Garfield, Jefferson, Mesa, Pitkin, Pueblo, and Summit).
Financing is provided by private capital providers who meet the program’s criteria. Projects may select their capital provider before applying to the program, or may apply without pre-arranged funding and use a pool of eligible capital providers to find the best-fit financing.
PACE liens, as special assessments, are senior to mortgages and other commercial liens. Therefore, property owners must receive the consent of all mortgage holders on the property to participate in the program. Qualification for C-PACE financing is based on the property’s market value, the dollar value of the energy improvement, the property owner’s equity in the property, and the owner’s mortgage and property tax payment history. The amount of allowable financing is based on the property’s financial statements, including the loan to value percentage, and other considerations of the mortgage holder. The repayment period is limited by the effective useful life of improvements. Interest rates vary but are fixed and typically low compared to alternative sources of financing. There is a program administration fee of 2.5% of the project finance amount, with a maximum fee of $75,000.
C-PACE provides support to contractors through building selection, project scoping, proposal preparation, technical review, financing, construction, and commissioning. Attendance of a contractor training workshop is required to be registered with the C-PACE program.
See the program website for more details, including a complete program guide, application forms, and information tailored to contractors, property owners, mortgage holders, counties, and capital providers.
History of PACE in Colorado
The C-PACE program operates under the statutory authority of CRS 32-20-101 et seq. HB 10-1378 established the NEID, and SB 13-212 made further amendments to establish the C-PACE program with the ability to utilize third-party financing to fund energy improvements. Colorado originally passed PACE enabling legislation in 2008 with HB 08-1350, though the more recent legislation supersedes this original statute.