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On global warming: The science was all settled just in 1896. While climate models are all wrong, in that they are not perfect, they all point to the same thing: We are frogs in a frying pan, and we continue turning up the heat.

What can we do about it? Without sacrifice, we can start a PACE program.  PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. It is a free market, freedom of choice approach to investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy production. There are no mandates, no penalties – other than a self-imposed one if you don’t participate – and no government funding. 

What does it do? As an engineer, for carbon footprint reduction reasons, I hate the waste of investment effort and dollars on solar panels. They would be my very last resort to slow or stop global warming, but it’s what the market wants, so I’ll use them for an example. Suppose you wanted to invest in them for your business (homes need more state legislation to allow it) and suppose you didn’t have $25,000 in the bank or credit you could use to buy them. As a business you need that money for inventory or a remodeled showroom or operating expenses during the slow season, but your environmental conscience is gnawing at you. If we had a PACE program you could use it to finance the solar investment. A PACE investor would provide the funds. The loan would be for 25 years. The repayment for the PACE loan would be so small that it would cost less the energy saved by the solar panels. In other words you get paid for allowing a PACE investor to provide the capital. PACE loans are handled as if they are a sidewalk, streetl amp, sewer or water project. The PACE investor gets repaid through a new special assessment on the property.

We all benefit from this.  We create economic prosperity, invest locally, provide jobs in insulation, lighting, HVAC, windows, green roofs, white roofs and even solar. We get cleaner air and I am sure create a better future. Even data centers could use PACE to help defray costs of more efficient servers or better chillers or share their waste heat with nearby homes or apartments.

Mortgage lenders get an improved asset that costs less to operate and their customer has more money to pay back their mortgage.

It’s hard to convince property owners, but they get an infinite return on their zero, yes zero, investment because they invested nothing, the PACE investor did, and they are rewarded.

Solar panels meet all the usual criteria. They are above code, and at a 25-year payback, they provide a cash flow positive transaction.

At present, Loudoun’s PACE program is in the finance committee. PACE was passed in Virginia in 2010 and updated in 2016. Since 2015 it has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce. The Economic Development Energy Task Force included it as a recommendation in their 2012 report to the Board of Supervisors.

The writer founded the nonprofit LoudounPace.

Girard John Gurgic

Ashburn

Comments


Mr. Gurgic,
I was recently in California where this idea is working well. Of course, California implemented this long ago. My niece receives a check of about 600.00 a year and does not pay an electric bill. The County requires it on all new construction and The equipment is financed through the mortgage company or others. I believe it pays for itself within ten years. Unlike Virginia, California is also very proactive with police and teacher salaries. Teachers and police can afford to buy a house in their communities and California still has lower taxes than most communities in Virginia. 

Ron Speakman Esq

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