PACE program taking shape in Cavendish
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | April 08,2013
CAVENDISH — Paying for energy efficiency projects in Cavendish is about to get easier.
The town is implementing a Property Assessed Clean Energy district, which is a financial incentive program for home improvement projects. The program came into existence with the passing of the 2009 Vermont Energy Act and a provision in the bill created the PACE program, whereby towns secure funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
According to Peter LaBelle of the Cavendish Community and Conservation Association, the program costs the town nothing. Towns must approve whether to accept PACE districts, and LaBelle said 13 Vermont towns have already signed on to the program.
Word of the program spread and Cavendish Energy Committee members sought to get on the bandwagon. Cavendish residents brought up an article to establish a PACE district on Town Meeting Day and it passed on a voice vote.
“Nobody has signed on yet because we just passed it at town meeting, but people have called and asked me about it. There’s early interest already,” LaBelle said.
To qualify, a property owner must identify specific energy improvements in the application. If approved, the property owner enters into an assessment contract with Cavendish and contractors get paid when work is complete.
According to LaBelle, property owners repay their assessments over a 10-, 15- or 20-year period. If the property is sold before the assessment is fully paid, the obligation is repaid by the new owner, or it can be paid off in full with no penalty.
The maximum amount that can be financed is 15 percent of the property’s assessed value and capped at $30,000. The total amount financed by PACE, plus any outstanding mortgages on the property, cannot exceed 90 percent of the assessed value, LaBelle said.
The PACE district covers insulation, air sealing, windows, doors and heating systems and renewable energy projects such as solar hot water systems, biomass energy heating systems, small wind systems, solar electric systems and solar space heating systems.
LaBelle said Cavendish is putting together a agreement with Efficiency Vermont. Efficiency Vermont will coordinate paperwork and provide the financing source from which loans will be made.
“Once we have signed the agreement with Efficiency Vermont to administer the program, they will then work with us to reach out to homeowners and raise awareness,” LaBelle said.
“There’s an opportunity for local contractors to do the work in the program. We’re reaching out to local contractors in Cavendish and hope it will help them in growing their businesses.”
More information will be available soon on the PACE district website at www.cavendishvt.org.