PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. PACE is a means of financing energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy installations for buildings. Examples of upgrades range from adding more attic insulation to installing rooftop solar panels. In areas with PACE legislation in place municipal governments offer a specific bond to investors and then turn around and loan the money to consumers and businesses to put towards an energy retrofit. The loans are repaid over the assigned term (typically 15 or 20 years) via an annual assessment on their property tax bill. PACE bonds can be issued by municipal financing districts or finance companies and the proceeds can be used to retrofit both commercial and residential properties. One of the most notable characteristics of PACE programs is that the loan is attached to the property rather than an individual.
PACE programs help home and business owners pay for the upfront costs of green initiatives, such as solar panels, which the property owner then pays back by increasing property taxes by a set rate over about 20 years. This allows property owners to begin saving on energy costs while they are paying for their solar panels. This usually means that property owners have net gains even with increased property tax.
PACE was originally known as a "Special Energy Financing District" or "on-tax bill solar and efficiency financing." The concept was first conceived and proposed in the Monterey Bay Regional Energy Plan in 2005. The concept was designed to overcome one of the most significant barriers to solar and costly energy efficiency retrofits: up-front costs. A homeowner could spend tens of thousands of dollars on a solar photovoltaic system, upgrading windows to be more energy efficient or adding insulation throughout the home, yet all of these investments would not likely be recovered when the home was sold. PACE enables the homeowner to "mortgage" these improvements and pay only for the benefits they derive while they own the home.
The first PACE program was implemented by Berkeley, California, led by Cisco DeVries, the chief of staff to Berkeley's mayor. DeVries saw PACE to provide a viable means to help achieve the Bay Area's climate goals. California passed the first legislation for PACE financing and started the BerkeleyFIRST climate program in 2008. Since then, PACE-enabling legislation has been passed in more than 16 states, allowing localities to establish PACE financing programs.
However, PACE financing for residential properties was dealt a serious blow in 2010 when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refused to back mortgages with PACE liens on them. As a result, Berkeley no longer offers this financing mechanism until these issues are resolved.
For a city, PACE can play an important role in reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, promoting energy efficiency improvements in its buildings, making the shift to renewable sources of energy more affordable, and reducing energy costs for residents and businesses. Because PACE is funded through municipal bonds it creates no liability to the city's funds. PACE also enables states and local governments to design and implement such programs in their communities. PACE programs also help to create jobs and thus spur local economic development when local solar installers and renewable energy companies partner with the program. It is also an opt-in program, so only those property owners who choose to participate are responsible for the costs of PACE financing.
PACE enables individuals and businesses to defer the upfront costs that are the most common barrier to solar installation. The PACE loans are paid with property taxes over a course of roughly 20 years while energy costs are simultaneously lower, providing the PACE consumer with net gains. Also, because the solar panels and the PACE loan is attached to the property, the consumer can sell the property leaving the debt to be paid through the property tax assessed on the subsequent owners.
Several problems have been raised regarding PACE. Foremost amongst the problems is the issue of involuntary subordination. Property taxes are superior to all other obligations, including mortgages. In case of default, taxes are paid before other creditors. Since the PACE loan is made after a mortgage is taken out, this in effect acts as an involuntary subordination of the lender's security. While this point is widely disputed, for this reason both FHFA and OCC have issued guidance that stopped residential PACE finance programs in most locations. Commercial PACE is, however, unaffected. Changes to make PACE loans secondary to mortgage loans have made residential PACE financing available in thirteen states, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Vermont, and Wisconsin, as well as in Washington DC, but PACE financing is on hold in fourteen others, pending resolution of the Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae objection.
Locations with PACE legislation 
|California||Available some locations|
|Colorado||Available, but no current loans|
|District of Columbia||Available|
|Michigan||Under development, available in Southfield|
|New Hampshire||On hold|
|New Jersey||Under development|
|New Mexico||Under development|
|North Carolina||On hold|
See also 
- Pace Now
- PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Financing
- Finance Overview
- PACE Program (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Financing
- Kammerer, Kurt (April 6, 2006). Monterey Bay Regional Energy Plan (Report). http://www.ccag.ca.gov/pdf/USTF/docs/AMBAGPartIFINAL11April06.pdf.
- "PACE Program (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Financing". 1BOG.org. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Speer, Bethany; Koenig, Ron. "Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing of Renewables and Efficiency". National Renewable Energy Lab. Retrieved 7-9-11.
- Hsu, Tiffany (7-7-10). "Fannie, Freddie freeze PACE energy-efficiency retrofit financing programs". LA Times. Retrieved 7-9-11.
- Interview with Cisco Devries on Sea Change Radio, originally aired May 26, 2010
- Brookings Institution, Enact Legislation Supporting Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing (PACE), November 2012
- PACE financing
- PACE Financing
- PACE Programs