Lost in the excitement and debate about the Virginia Clean Energy Act (we talked about it here), a number of other clean energy and energy efficiency bills have been winding their way through the General Assembly. One bill in particular that has flown under the radar is House Bill 654, which amends the Virginia C-PACE enabling legislation to empower the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to develop and administer a statewide program for C-PACE. HB 654 has now passed both the House and Senate and awaits signature by the Governor.
C-PACE, which stands for Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, is an innovative lending program now active in over 20 states including parts of Virginia, which provides long-term financing for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and resiliency upgrades for commercial buildings. C-PACE loans are repaid via a special assessment on the property tax bills and can often finance 100% of eligible improvements. For a summary of C-PACE, where its available, and how it works, check out https://pacenation.org/ and https://virginiapace.com/.
C-PACE has been enabled in Virginia since 2009, but because the financing mechanism involves special assessments on property, to date, each local jurisdiction is required to pass enabling ordinances to enable the assessment changes, and then implement the necessary changes to their property tax systems. Currently, eight Virginia jurisdictions have passed enabling legislation and are in various stages of implementation, including some of the largest in the Commonwealth, including Fairfax, Loudon, Richmond, Petersburg and Fredericksburg. (See chart below, courtesy of our friends at the Virginia Pace Authority.)
The change provided by HB 654 will create a state wide program that any jurisdiction can opt into. This will streamline the process, provide a more centralized mechanism for promoting the program, and allow smaller jurisdictions, who may not feel that they have the resources to implement and manage such a program, to avail themselves of the same benefits that larger jurisdictions have gleaned from C-PACE.
Once passed, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will engage a private entity through a competitive selection process to run the program. This is an exciting development for energy efficiency efforts in the Commonwealth, and we are hopeful this legislation will become law. Check back here for more developments on C-PACE and if you are interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of C-PACE where currently available, contact Andy Brownstein or any of our Virginia energy lawyers.
|Locality||Status (as of Dec. 17, 2019)||Program Details|
|Arlington County||Active||Launched in Jan. 2018, Arlington C-PACE is the first active program in the state. Sustainable Real Estate Solutions is the program administrator.|
|City of Fredericksburg||Active||Fredericksburg enabling ordinance passed Dec. 2018. City intends to self-administer program initially, and staff considers the program to be active.|
|Loudoun County||Active||Loudoun County and program administrator Virginia PACE Authority (“VPA”) launched program in November, 2019 late 2019.|
|Fairfax County||Active January 2020||Fairfax County selected VPA as its program administrator in November, 2019. Program launch anticipated in early 2020.|
|City of Petersburg||Active January 2020||Ordinance passed on July 3, 2019. City rode Loudoun County’s contract with VPA in August.|
|City of Richmond||Ordinance enacted||City Council passed ordinance on November 12, 2019. Program to be launched by mid-2020 per ordinance requirement.|
|City of Alexandria||Ordinance in development||Funding to support ordinance/program development approved April, 2019. launch of program anticipated in mid-2020. Anticipated public comment on ordinance in January 2020.|
|Town of Dumfries||Ordinance enacted||City Council passed ordinance on December 3, 2019. No further info is available regarding if they are issuing an RFP or riding a contract with another locality.|
|City of Lynchburg||Ordinance enacted||City Council passed ordinance on December 10, 2019. No further info is available regarding if they are issuing an RFP or riding a contract with another locality.|