Green funding option explored

LOWVILLE — A funding alternative to traditional loans for energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy projects to commercial, multifamily residential or nonprofit properties was brought to the Lewis County Board’s general services committee this month by the county Industrial Development Agency.

IDA Executive Director Eric J. Virkler presented the concept behind the Energize NY - Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, which would, if the county enrolls in the program, check another box in the county’s “Clean Energy Community” designation.

“The purpose of the program is to incentivise energy projects,” Mr. Virkler said, “and improve the building stock in the county.”

The Energy Improvement Corporation is a statewide local development corporation and non-profit organization that administers the Energize NY financing program on behalf of participating municipalities, which currently total 14 including five counties and eight townships or cities.

Unlike traditional loans, financing up to 100% of the project cost is available for terms from five years to the expected lifespan of the improvements, which is generally 30 years.

In the case of a default, municipal taxes would be paid before the “benefit assessment lien” on the property to which all other liens would be subordinate.

To participate in the program, municipalities with a tax lien authority, in this case Lewis County, would have to pass a local law and sign an agreement with Energy Improvement.

According to information on the Energize NY website, the benefit of the program to participating municipalities is that there are no fees to join and Energy Improvement takes care of all of the administration for the program, including recording liens, billing the property owner and collecting payments.

Projects eligible for the funding include lighting upgrades, HVAC systems, door and window upgrades, insulation and renewable energy projects like solar panels, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines among others.

Capital companies providing the financing include YGrene, PACE Loan Group, Counterpointe, Greenworks Lending, Lever Energy, NYCEEC, Lord Capital, PACE Equity, Clean Fun and Petros PACE Finance, as listed on the state Energy Research and Development Agency website.

Answering legislator questions about the potential down side to the county, Mr. Virkler said the main risk would be if the capital company that loaned the money collected, it could be a negative reflection on the county because its name is attached to the transaction.

If a business goes under, however, the county will be paid before the lien held by the capital company kicks-in.

Another potential challenge the program could create is that because the lien stays with the property if it changes hands, accepting Energize NY financing may make it difficult to sell a foreclosed upon property.

To learn more about the Energize NY Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program, go to wdt.me/ENYPace or wdt.me/NYSERDA.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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