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New York: Municipal clean energy loan legislation passed Senate and Assembly

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On November 16, 2009 a bill passed the New York State and Assembly, which empowers communities to launch Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan programs. The legislation allows municipalities to leverage federal funds in order to provide loans to commercial and residential property owners to finance energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy systems. Property owners could then opt into these programs and reap an immediate savings on their energy costs and repay their loans via an annual charge on their property tax bill.
“By passing the municipal sustainable energy loan program bill during the extraordinary session, we are putting New York municipalities in a position to compete for $454 million in federal stimulus funds,” Congressman Israel said. “PACE programs will save home and business owners money, create new sustainable green jobs, bring clean energy companies to the State to compete for our business, and help wrench New York out of this painful recession. I am thankful Governor Paterson and the State Legislature see the potential for PACE programs in New York and I look forward to working with our local communities to launch PACE bond pilot programs across the State.”
Last month, Vice President Joe Biden announced $454 million in Recovery Act funding from the Department of Energy to support PACE pilot programs as part of his “Recovery through Retrofit” plan. Applications for the funding are due in December and awarded on a competitive basis. Currently, New York State law does not allow municipalities to add the additional property tax charge to owners’ property tax bills, which is the mechanism used to pay back PACE loans. The bill passed by the New York State Legislature gives communities the ability to add this charge, making New York municipalities competitive in the bidding process for federal funds.
According to PACE Now, an independent coalition of PACE bond supporters, it is estimated that the potential for PACE bonds could exceed $500 billion nationally. For most energy retrofit projects, property owners can expect to see an immediate energy savings of 20 to 40 percent. PACE bonds finance energy efficiency upgrades, such as double insulated windows, as well as the installation of clean energy technologies, such as solar panels or geothermal heat pumps.
Because of high energy prices and a vast amount of infrastructure, New York is uniquely positioned to benefit from the expansion of local PACE programs. A similar program launched in Babylon last year has shown great success and a high level of participation. This summer, the Governor signed bipartisan legislation granting Binghamton and Bedford the authority to implement such a program.