While C-PACE has experienced national growth in recent years, many potential adopters face constrained access—or erroneously assume they are ineligible—due to their status as tax-exempt organizations. The CivicPACE project provided tools to address underwriting and access challenges for tax-exempt entities—including houses of worship, nonprofit affordable housing, community clinics, and educational institutions—in jurisdictions with active PACE markets.
The CivicPACE program worked with over a dozen local jurisdictions, their PACE administrators, and affiliated organizations as well as federal agencies with jurisdiction over affordable housing—like the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Agriculture—to demonstrate the potential for expanding C-PACE financing to civic organizations across the country.
The project team focused on maximizing their geographic impact. To do this, they prioritized underserved solar markets, as well as property owners with national reach. The team worked extensively on two pilot projects in Washington, D.C. that addressed questions of property-type viability (e.g., houses of worship) and policy applicability (e.g., federally subsidized housing).
An overview of the CivicPACE project and financing mechanism.
The project team—comprising The Solar Foundation, Urban Ingenuity, and Clean Energy Solutions, Inc.—supported the development of CivicPACE markets in several states by implementing replicable CivicPACE-financed solar projects; sharing lessons learned from active and completed CivicPACE projects; providing policy recommendations; and engaging financing, legal, solar+storage, and nonprofit stakeholders.
The CivicPACE team released the report CivicPACE: Enabling Policies & Procedures – Exploring The Treatment of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy for Solar on Tax-Exempt and Public, which advanced an understanding of the PACE regulatory landscape by exploring the legal and policy environment surrounding tax-exempt organizations and outlining how these organizations can take advantage of PACE financing.
The CivicPACE team worked to provide a legal understanding of how tax-exempt capital might support projects by public housing authorities, and how to deploy this type of capital into appropriate transaction structures for faith-based institutions and other nonprofits. The team, together with a law firm, completed a memo discussing several factors, including various financing options, the underlying legal basis for financing, potential limitations and policy barriers to PACE financing, key target areas and certain considerations with respect to HUD policies and HUD-related housing programs, including Rental Assistance Demonstration programs and Freddie Mac and FHA lending issues. The CivicPACE team used this memo to provide education and engagement on PACE for tax-exempt organizations.
The project team published Civic Power: A Primer on PACE-Secured Solar Power Purchase Agreements, exploring how securing solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) with PACE financing may offer a particularly useful tool for nonprofit organizations. PACE-secured PPA offers an approach for nonprofit community-based organizations to lead the way in bringing solar energy to small and mid-sized commercial buildings.
This report explores the legal and policy environment surrounding tax-exempt organizations and outlining how these organizations can take advantage of PACE financing.
This memo provides a legal understanding of how tax-exempt capital might support solar projects for public housing authorities and nonprofits.
This case study details the first use of PACE financing for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development assisted mixed-finance public housing property.
This case study describes how a nonprofit organization used Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to add solar and upgrade efficiency measures.
The lessons learned and best practices from the CivicPACE team’s work is featured in a CivicPACE Toolkit and Replication Guide intended for program designers and practitioners nationwide and shows how PACE can be an effective financing tool for solar development for tax-exempt organizations such as schools, churches, and multifamily affordable housing. Major takeaways include: