Nebraska lawmakers pass PACE bill to open up efficiency, renewable generation

Dive Brief:

  • Nebraska lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed a measure allowing for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, a move which could help alleviate heavy up-front costs for some energy efficiency projects, Midwest Energy News reports. 
  • Senator Heath Mello (D), who sponsored the bill, introduced similar legislation a half dozen years ago but the proposals received little interest, with banking lobbyists opposed to the arrangement.
  • The legislation includes a $5 million cap on any single PACE bond, but allows for municipalities to fund larger projects following a referendum.

Dive Insight:

Nebraska typically ranks pretty low in energy  efficiency – the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy ranks the Cornhusker state 42 out of 50, for example. But Mello's bill, which legislators passed last week, would help to eliminate one of the largest barriers to efficiency projects.

“The upfront costs for energy efficient improvements is the single largest barrier preventing property owners from making meaningful upgrades to their homes and businesses,” Mello in a statement introducing the measure. “By authorizing cities to implement an alternative financing method through the creation of energy assessment districts, we can spur the further development of the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, while creating new jobs across the state.”

The bill will help homeowners "reduce their energy bills and increase the value of their property," he said.

The market could take hold quickly in Nebraska, Midwest Energy News reports. Two lenders have already indicated an interest in helping fund projects: Pace Equity, focused on commercial projects, and Renovate America, which handles residential PACE loans.

The news outlet reports PACE loans offer a longer payback period than a conventional loan and is attached to the property, which could work for someone looking to sell the property before it has been fully repaid and passed on to the new owner alongside reduced bills from energy efficiency practices and investment in renewable generation. 

“I know the PACE financiers have been on the ground and are already meeting with interested cities in anticipation of this passing,” Elizabeth Hertzler, a legislative aide to Sen. Mello, told the news outlet. The cities of Lincoln, Omaha and some rural locations have expressed interest, she said.

The bill now heads to the desk of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), and Midwest Energy News reports he is expected to sign the measure.

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Filed Under: Efficiency & Demand Response
Top image credit: Aaron McMahon