One of the greatest challenges facing Albertans who want to invest in a renewable energy project, or energy efficiency measures for their home, is finding a way to pay for it. Both renewable energy and energy efficiency projects can be significant financial investments, which often do not fit easily within household budgets.
To help make funding these projects more feasible for the average Albertan, the Province of Alberta has recently passed new legislation (Bill 10) with the goal of enabling clean energy improvements in the province. The legislation allows municipalities to offer affordable financing programs to residential, commercial and agricultural property owners who want to make emissions reducing building improvements and/or increase their use and production of clean energy. Called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, it is aimed at reducing the financial barrier to making energy improvements to buildings, allowing Albertans to live cleaner and greener, all while helping to create green jobs in the Province.
PACE is not a rebate or subsidy program, but a financing tool that can be accessed for energy efficiency, water conservation or on-site renewable energy generation projects. The legislation, once completed, will provide a guiding regulation and framework (developed in conjunction with Energy Efficiency Alberta) for municipalities to voluntarily develop their own unique PACE programs, offering financing to property owners within their jurisdiction. Municipalities that develop and implement PACE programs will be required to offer no-money-down financing, with pay back occurring through the property’s tax bill, typically over a long term of 20-25 years. The outstanding balance of the loan will be able to be paid back at any time and the repayments will remain attached to the property, so if the property is sold the new owners assume the repayment plan.
The PACE model is not a new concept. In fact, it has already been adopted by nearly all regions in the US and by Ontario, Nova Scotia and Québec, in Canada. PACE has a proven track record of creating jobs and encouraging economic growth, all while protecting the environment, and promoting real action on combating climate change without the need for increased taxes or an increase in government funding. And from a property owner’s perspective, in typical PACE programs, the annual energy cost savings are greater than the loan payments. This helps to make the benefits of improving energy efficiency and installing renewable energy generating systems very clear: increased property values, lower utility bills and the social capital and bragging rights that come with being the greenest on your block.
A number of municipalities are already working on developing their own PACE programs, to be ready for when the legislation is expected to come in to force, in early 2019. Be sure to ask your local municipal leaders about what they are doing to make PACE available in your region. Combined with rebate programs available from the province, municipalities and electrical utilities (see SESA’s solar incentive list here), PACE financing is a great way to turn your dreams of producing renewable energy into a reality!
For more information about the provincial legislation visit: https://www.alberta.ca/PACE.aspx
~ Stephanie Ripley, Project & Operations Assistant