|C-PACE: Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy
|Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Inc
|Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Photovoltaics
In 2010, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which has authority over mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, directed these enterprises against purchasing mortgages of homes with a PACE lien due to its senior status above a mortgage. Most residential PACE activities subsided following this directive; however, some residential PACE programs are now operating with loan loss reserve funds, appropriate disclosures, or other protections meant to address FHFA's concerns. Commercial PACE programs were not directly affected by FHFA’s actions, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not underwrite commercial mortgages. Visit PACENation for more information about PACE financing and a comprehensive list of all PACE programs across the country.
Colorado has created a statewide PACE program that allows property owners to finance 100% of the up-front costs of an energy efficiency, renewable energy, or water conservation improvement. Property owners repay the financing as a special assessment on their property tax bill over the financing term, up to 20 years. Typically, the annual energy savings exceed annual assessments, making PACE projects cash flow positive from the first year. C-PACE funding is available to commercial, industrial, agricultural, non-profit and multifamily properties. New construction may use PACE financing for up to 20% of the total construction costs when designing and building energy efficiency measures beyond what is required by the existing code.
C-PACE is administered by Sustainable Real Estate Solutions SRS on behalf of the state New Energy Improvement District (NEID), which was authorized by HB 10-1328 (and amended by SB 13-1212 and SB 16-171). NEID by statute is governed by a Board of Directors that includes representatives from the Colorado Energy Office, real estate development, banking, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and public utilities. Counties must opt in to the program through a participation agreement with the NEID in order to make C-PACE financing available to properties located within the county. Counties are responsible for collecting assessment payments and remitting those payments to NEID in order to distribute repayments to the original capital provider. To cover the costs of these services, counties may leverage a 1% servicing fee, usually included in the total financed amount and repaid over the course of the financing. This link provides a list of all participating Colorado counties.
Financing is provided by private capital providers who meet the program’s criteria. Projects may select their capital provider before applying to the program, or may apply without pre-arranged funding and use a pool of eligible capital providers to find the best-fit financing.
PACE liens, as special assessments, are senior to mortgages and other commercial liens. Therefore, property owners must receive the consent of all mortgage holders on the property to participate in the program. Qualification for C-PACE financing is based on the property’s market value, the dollar value of the energy improvement, the property owner’s equity in the property, and the owner’s a mortgage and property tax payment history. The amount of allowable financing is based on the property’s financial statements, including the loan to value percentage, and other considerations of the mortgage holder. The repayment period is limited by the effective useful life of improvements. Interest rates vary but are fixed and typically low compared to alternative sources of financing. There is a one-time fee equal to 2.25% of the project finance amount (not to exceed $50,000 per project, with a minimum fee of $5,000 per project) will be assigned to each C-PACE project.
Colorado C-PACE projects typically range from $200,000 to over $1.0 million. There are no C-PACE program-defined minimum or maximum project financing size limitations. Rather each participating capital provider is expected to set their own financing parameters.
C-PACE provides support to contractors through building selection, project scoping, proposal preparation, technical review, financing, construction, and commissioning. Attendance of a contractor training workshop is required to be registered with the C-PACE program.
See the program website for more details, including a complete program guide, application forms, and information tailored to contractors, property owners, mortgage holders, counties, and capital providers.
History of PACE in Colorado
The C-PACE program operates under the statutory authority of CRS 32-20-101 et seq. HB 10-1378 established the NEID, and SB 13-212 made further amendments to establish the C-PACE program with the ability to utilize third-party financing to fund energy improvements. Colorado originally passed PACE enabling legislation in 2008 with HB 08-1350, though the more recent legislation supersedes this original statute.