Bipartisan Bill to Spur Energy and Water Efficiency, Clean Energy Passes Pennsylvania State Senate

A bill passed today by the Pennsylvania Senate would help enable commercial building owners to make investments in their buildings to reduce energy and water use and install clean energy upgrades on their facilities.

January 30, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. (January 30, 2018) –  Senate Bill 234, a bipartisan bill authored by State Sens. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny/Washington), would establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the state.

Under the bill, local units of government could develop a PACE program to provide low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to commercial or industrial properties. The money is then paid back in the form of a voluntary property tax assessment on the specific improved building, accruing no cost to taxpayers. Participating local communities would collect the assessment on the improved building and use that to pay the debt incurred from the building’s energy-efficiency and clean energy technology upgrades.

“I’m proud to work with my friend and colleague Senator Guy Reschenthaler to move good public policy off the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate,” said Senator Blake. “PACE gives local governments across Pennsylvania a powerful tool to support the commercial, industrial, and agricultural community as business interests invest in energy efficiency, solar power, and water conservation projects. PACE advances the use of cutting edge technologies while creating jobs.”

PACE is supported by private lending and does not impose upon Pennsylvania taxpayers. In fact, it would result in more economic activity that will drive increased revenues into the Commonwealth’s General Fund.

“This would give Pennsylvania businesses the opportunity to make costly energy-saving upgrades now, utilizing a creative, market-driven financing mechanism that doesn’t spend a dime of taxpayers’ money,” added Blake.

A local government would be able to choose to participate in or develop a PACE financing program. PACE can pay for new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps, and insulation. It is an economic development tool that enhances property values and employment opportunities, lowers the cost of doing business, and expands the use of energy saving technologies.

“We thank Senators Blake and Reschenthaler for their leadership in creating good jobs, boosting energy and water efficiency efforts in commercial and industrial buildings, and helping to ensure that businesses can remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace,” said Khari Mosley, regional program manager for the BlueGreen Alliance. “PACE is a smart idea that’s time has come in our state. We urge the House to move forward on this bill now to get people to work manufacturing and installing energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in every corner of Pennsylvania.”

Currently, 33 states plus the District of Columbia authorize PACE financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. States utilizing the PACE program include Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Texas.

After today’s affirmative vote of 42 to 8 in the Senate, the bill awaits action in the House of Representatives.