Texas Gov. Rick Perry Approves PACE Program for Low-Cost Financing of Water, Energy Conservation Projects

Austin – Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed legislation allowing local property taxing authorities to enact ordinances enabling Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs across the state. PACE financing will allow commercial and industrial building owners to obtain low-cost, long-term private sector financing for water conservation and energy-efficiency improvements. With Gov. Perry’s signature, the PACE program is effective immediately.

“Municipalities and counties can now move forward to establish PACE programs in their communities, working with commercial lenders and property owners to enhance the value of existing structures and save substantial amounts in water and energy costs,” says Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director of Keeping PACE in Texas, a non-profit association formed by the law firm of Thompson & Knight to promote PACE-related legislation. “This is a voluntary, market-based economic development program that does not create a burden on government resources while offering a proven way to conserve valuable resources for future generations.”

Keeping PACE in Texas is working with a number of supportive cities, counties, associations and companies to design and distribute “Tool Kits” to help local officials and property owners develop vibrant PACE programs that can serve as national models for water and energy conservation financing.

The PACE financing process begins when a property owner identifies a qualifying conservation improvement to an existing building. The owner then engages a contractor to determine the scope of the work, and obtains an independent analysis to confirm that the work will achieve the projected energy savings. The owner then arranges financing through a bank or other lender, and applies for approval of the financing.

The local PACE program reviews the building owner’s application, and, if the project meets all requirements, the program places an assessment on the property, collects the assessments and transfers those payments to the lender.  In most cases, the annual utility savings resulting from the retrofit will exceed the amount of the annual assessment, essentially allowing a PACE project to pay for itself over time.

“PACE will help Texans meet the conservation goals in our State Water Plan and reduce demand on our electric grid,” says Sen. John Carona, sponsor of SB 385. “These savings will benefit the building owners directly and help keep the Texas economic engine primed for growth and prepared for the continuing influx of people moving to Texas to share in our prosperity.”

“A legislative priority for this session was investment in Texas’ infrastructure – roads, power, and water – to support this state’s economic boom. Investing in building infrastructure to address delayed maintenance will improve our buildings’ value, create jobs, and help the state meet its water and energy conservation goals,” says Rep. Jim Keffer, sponsor of the House companion bill, HB 1094.

“A PACE assessment will have the same legal status as a lien for ad valorem taxes,” says Stephen M. Block, a Partner in the Houston office of Thompson & Knight. “Because the lien will attach to the land, each owner of the property will be obligated to pay only the portion of the cost that accrues during its period of ownership.”

More information about the PACE program is available at www.keepingpaceintexas.org.

Contact: Charlene Heydinger, 512-469-6184, charlene.heydinger@keeppace.org.