Key Takeaways from the 2021 PACENation Summit
Interest in the PACE industry is clearly accelerating.
The excitement was palpable from the beginning at the PACENation Summit, with a strong emphasis right from the outset on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) from Summit Chair Kimberly Lewis.
The PACE industry was one of the first to adopt a strong DEI policy, ensuring that access to capital is equitable across neighborhoods and communities, and working to bring minority voices into PACENation’s Board of Directors.
The industry is committed to building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive PACE marketplace.
Beginning in 2019, industry leaders committed themselves to inclusive policies in four key areas with special relevance to Rochester:
- Transparency and Accountability
- Hiring and Organizational Leadership
- Cultivating Future Leaders, and
- Strengthening PACE for All Communities
The organization notes:
Commercial PACE providers specifically seek to coordinate with community organizations and relevant federal agencies (e.g. the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) to reduce barriers and accelerate investment into affordable multi-family housing and long-term care facilities, where high energy costs disproportionately impact low-income communities of color…
The commitments included in this plan are intended as another step to facilitate the growth of a PACE marketplace that enables historically underserved and underrepresented communities to be full participants in our nation’s clean energy future. For us, full participation means access to capital for critical building upgrades, access to jobs and career advancement, and access to wealth creation opportunities for people of color, women, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.
PACE is key to achieving our climate goals of upgrading four million commercial buildings and two million homes in the next four years.
As one speaker noted, without a vibrant PACE industry we simply cannot achieve the goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030, which we know is insufficient in itself but a critical first step along the road to full decarbonization.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is creating a comprehensive state and local toolkit for release later this year.
Below, DOE’s “Toolkit” plan shows, in green highlight, the documents that are available now.
Marketing and communications remain the biggest obstacles to market acceptance
Reaching commercial property owners is a big challenge, and gaining their trust and understanding an even bigger one. Little marketing is done, and most outreach is limited to the largest commercial properties and property owners.
There is limited social and community engagement—which is of course what opens the door to the sort of multipronged, community-driven approach that we’ve been advocating for scaling the adoption of PACE.
New Jersey C-PACE Bill Moves to the Finish Line
After ten years of trying to amend its original PACE statute—which so far has proven ineffective—NJ’s C-PACE legislation (A2374/S1953) now appears to be on track for approval in both houses of the NJ Legislature today (June 24), after which it will go to NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s desk for signature.
Once enacted, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will have nine months to draft rules, guidelines, and standardized documents for projects statewide. The top one-third (by population) of the state’s 565 municipalities will also be able to establish local programs for processing approvals, as long as they follow the state guidelines. Speaking at the PACENation Summit, Assembly Sponsor Raj Mukherji suggested NJ’s program could be available by the summer of 2022 and possibly sooner. Importantly, the bill allows retroactivity and new construction.
New Jersey is the most densely populated and largest remaining unopened market for C-PACE in the Northeast, and now joins New York City, New York State, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, and others in offering Commercial PACE financing.
State Senator Bob Smith was one of the bill’s two original sponsors, with then-Assembly Deputy Speaker (now BPU Commissioner) Upendra Chivukula. Raj Mukherji assumed principal sponsorship of the Assembly bill after being elected to represent Jersey City.