Today Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financier CleanFund announced that it has partnered with a subsidiary of solar PV distributor Soligent, under which Soligent’s network of dealers and installers will be able to utilize CleanFund’s PACE financing for its customers who own commercial and industrial (C&I), non-profit and multi-family residential buildings.
PACE is a program whereby property owners can finance improvements including energy efficiency upgrades and installation of solar PV systems directly through their property taxes, as a lien against their property. CleanFund notes that its SolarPACE program enables customers to achieve immediate positive cash flow, with financing terms up to 30 years, in part due to innovations including a feature that allows customers to claim the federal investment tax credit to pay down their PACE loans.
CleanFund notes that this deal comes shortly after the Obama Administration announced new guidelines for residential PACE loans, including guidance related to the transfer of the loan a sale.
These guidelines were not related to the C&I sector in which CleanFund operates, and this sector has traditionally not experienced the same market barriers stemming from a lack of cooperation by federal mortgage authorities that the residential sector has. However, CleanFund notes that the new guidelines and the resulting press coverage is good publicity for PACE and CleanFund VP of Solar Brandon Deno calls the announcement an “enthusiasm boost”.
PACE is also available in more states for C&I PV systems than residential systems. State laws enable PACE loans for C&I solar PV systems in 32 states and Washington D.C., as opposed to only 15 for residential PACE. In these states CleanFund characterizes PACE as a small but growing part of the financing landscape.
This is particularly true in California, where CleanFund says that PACE programs are overcoming the geographical fragmentation they have had in recent years as more and more cities and counties opt in to programs.
CleanFund says that PACE may be strategically important to building the overall C&I market, which has struggled relative to the residential and utility-scale markets. “The existing financing solutions that are out there aren’t really helping the market grow,” notes Deno. “PACE is something new that can open up the market and let it grow.”