The Energy Efficiency Financing Act. One of the biggest hurdles for energy efficiency projects in the District are the significant up-front costs. Recently, though, jurisdictions around the country have adopted a new program, called a Property Assessed Clean Energy ("PACE") loan program. The Energy Efficiency Financing Act of 2010 (for a copy of the introduced version of the bill, click here) would authorize the District to issue, sell, and deliver of up to $250 million of District of Columbia revenue bonds to finance low-interest loans to District property owners for the purpose of making energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. The property owners who elect to participate in the program would repay the loans through an assessment on their property taxes.
The Committee on Finance and Revenue and the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment held a joint hearing on the permanent bill on January 25, 2010. At that hearing, we heard testimony from many witnesses from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. To see a webcast of the hearing, click here. The witnesses all supported the legislation, and both committees will be marking up the permanent version in the near future.
In addition, the District has applied for a $35 million grant from the Department of Energy to provide us with seed money for this program. Our application is currently under review by DOE.
The District’s need for clean energy investments cannot be overstated. As noted by the District Department of the Environment, energy use in buildings accounts for 75% of the District’s carbon emissions. The need for investments in District-owned buildings alone amounts to more than $300 million. According to DDOE’s witness at the joint hearing on the permanent bill, the cost of making equivalent upgrades throughout the private sector “would reach into the billions.”
The $250 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy loans that would be authorized by Bill 18-580 would represent the single biggest financial investment that the District will have made in reducing its carbon footprint, and it would be a wise investment indeed.
To learn more about PACE programs, click here.
On February 25, 2010, the Committee on Government Operations approved Bill 18-580. To see a copy of the Committee's draft report, click here. The bill will be considered on first reading by the Council at the March 2, 2010, legislative meeting.