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PACE to help commercial property owners conserve

Burnet County Commissioners Court authorizes PACE

The Burnet County Commissioners Court on February 25 approved a resolution authorizing the Property Assessed Clean Energy program to offer its services in the county. Texas PACE enables commercial, industrial, and multi-family residential property owners to obtain long-term, low-cost financing for energy efficiency and water conservation projects. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

After a few questions concerning Burnet County’s limited role in a program that would help commercial property owners acquire loans for energy efficiency and water conservation projects, the Commissioners Court unanimously approved a resolution establishing it.

The Property Assessed Clean Energy program, authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2013, provides an avenue for commercial property owners to receive financing for water conservation efforts, energy efficiency improvements, and renewable energy upgrades or retrofits.

It is strictly voluntary, Burnet County Judge James Oakley pointed out during the Commissioner Court’s February 25 meeting. And no public funds are used.

Burnet County commissioners heard about the program during their February 14 meeting.

Texas PACE provides a financing mechanism so commercial property owners can upgrade older properties to be more energy efficient and waste less water.

Dub Taylor, Texas PACE Authority chief operating officer, attended the Burnet County Commissioners Court meeting February 25. He explained that PACE uses third-party lenders for financing for eligible projects with repayment made through an assessment tied to the property. The payment transfers with the property if an owner sells the structure, Taylor said.

Basically, the owner agrees to place a voluntary lien, through the county, on the property for the cost of the project.

With limited effort and no financial obligation on its part, Burnet County is opening a way for commercial, industrial, hospitality, agriculture, nonprofits, and multi-family residential property owners to make improvements. These improvements can help with economic development  as the properties become more attractive to businesses or families.

Property owners get 100 percent financing for a project they might not otherwise have been able to do, and it lowers energy and water costs.

In other areas, PACE has shown great success. Congregation Beth Israel, a Jewish synagogue in Austin, spent $15,000 to $20,000 each year on chiller and boiler repairs. The building was originally built in 1950 with improvements in 2001.

The chiller failed during a recent summer.

The congregation obtained financing through the PACE program with no-out-of-pocket expenses. It allowed Congregation Beth Israel to replace its chillers, boilers, and the controls and add energy-efficient items.

If, sometime in the future, Burnet County opted to leave the PACE program, it could do so without affecting completed or financed projects, Taylor said. However, it would likely end any projects “in the pipe.”

Check out the Texas PACE website for more information on what projects are eligible or how to begin the process.