By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor
PACE, the Property Assessed Clean Energy program, has been adopted by Texas’ largest city as a citywide private clean energy finance program. Through PACE Houston building owners engage in water and energy efficiency improvements through private financing, without the steep upfront costs.
Texas responds vividly to this clean energy finance tool—Houston is not the first city in the Lone Star State to embrace PACE. Austin’s Travis County adopted the program in March and a Dallas city ordinance is on the horizon. Furthermore, Cameron and Willacy Counties aim to bring PACE to the Rio Grande Valley in January.
To make the process as simple as possible, Houston deployed the Pace in a Box toolkit enclosing all of the design elements, documents, and implementation steps necessary for a local government to establish a PACE program fast, economically, and in a uniform way. The energy and water efficiency improvement in Texas are wholly financed by private capital, thus PACE programs that use the toolkit throughout the state, do not require taxpayer funding, instead enable large amount of private money to flow into facility upgrades. There are nine lenders involved in the program, including a Texas bank, prepared with hundreds of millions of dollars available for Texas PACE projects. Furthermore, PACE allows property owners to choose their lenders.
Behind the Houston development is Laura Spanjian, Mayor Parker’s director of sustainability. Her team included Houston’s Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Keeping PACE in Texas, the Texas PACE Authority, and key city staff.