Select Board to vote on whether to opt into program that finances commercial energy improvements

February 5, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Massachusetts program would provide Hingham commercial property owners an opportunity to finance energy improvements through special betterment assessments on their property tax bills if the Select Board decides to opt in on a one-time basis. The assessments are spread over as long as 20 years.

MassDevelopment administers PACE in consultation with the Masschusetts Department of Energy Resources.

Wendy O’Malley, Senior Vice President of MassDevelopment’s  Green Finance department, explained the program to the board recently.

PACE benefits not only property owners but also the municipalities where they are located “because they will be consuming less fossil fuel, which aligns with local sustainability initiatives,” she said.

Business owners interested in this program would have the opportunity to apply to PACE by detailing the type of energy improvement project they would like to undertake and demonstrating that the energy savings will be greater than the cost.

Owners of commercial and industrial buildings — including office buildings, malls, hotels, restaurants, and manufacturers — buildings owned by nonprofits (such as YMCAs, schools, and healthcare), and owners of multi-family housing with more than five units work with a capital provider, such as a bank or a PACE lender, to finalize the application and to fund the project.

PACE applications require Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and MassDevelopment approval to move forward.

MassDevelopment works with the host community to bill and collect the assessment, which is then sent to the capital provider as repayment for the financing.

Eligible projects include financing boilers or furnaces, HVAC systems, lighting upgrades, solar panels, insulation, air sealing, geothermal, solar hot water, energy management systems, energy recovery, and redestribution systems.

Retroactive consideration is available for already-installed improvements.

If a property is sold, the remaining PACE assessment and lien remain with the property and transfer to the new owner.

More than 70 communities in Massachusetts have opted into the program, including Brookline, Lexington, Brockton, Barnstable, Fall River, Holyoke, Middleborough, New Bedford, North Andover, Plymouth, Rockland, Wellesley, Weston, and Yarmouth.

“This is an interesting program that is aligned with Hingham’s climate goals,” Select Board Chair Liz Klein said.

The board will vote on whether to opt into the program on a one-time basis at an upcoming meeting.

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