Austin Launches Texas’ Inaugural PACE Program, Unleashes Private Funding for Water and Energy Efficiency

By: Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director, Keeping PACE in Texas

PACEinaBox-logoToday marked a milestone for Texas’ clean energy economy. Travis County voted to adopt the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, making it the first county in Texas to do so. This means Austin and the surrounding area will soon reap the economic and environmental benefits from giving energy-intensive, thirsty Texas a reprieve with water efficiency and clean energy.

What is PACE?

PACE, enacted during the 2013 Texas Legislature with support from both sides of the aisle, has the potential to unlock a considerable amount of private funding for clean energy projects in the state. Specifically, it is an innovative financing program – completely free of government mandates and public funding – that enables commercial, industrial, multi-family, and agricultural property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for water conservation, energy-efficiency, and renewable energy projects. Participants will then repay these loans for clean energy projects through their property tax bill.

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A PACE loan simultaneously offers building owners cheaper financing options and lenders secure repayment terms. In exchange for funds provided by a private lender to pay for the project, the property owner voluntarily requests that the local government place an assessment secured with a senior lien on the property until the assessment is paid in full. The assessment is owed to the local government, which forwards the payments to the private lender.

State Program, County Project, Local Support

Travis County Commissioners Gerald Daugherty (R) and Brigid Shea (D) united to cosponsor the resolution with tremendous support from a large local coalition of PACE advocates in Travis County, as well as by County Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Elfant.

This means that within the next several weeks, private funding for water and energy efficiency upgrades as well as renewable energy projects in Travis County will be unleashed for local businesses.

Benefits to Businesses

PACE has great potential to directly affect the bottom lines of small and medium sized businesses. To be eligible for PACE financing, a project must show that the savings in utility costs will offset the cost of installing the project. In most instances, this will result in an immediate positive cash flow. This mechanism can be used to equip buildings with the latest in efficiency technology, including lighting, HVAC, and water conservation tools. In addition, PACE can be used for renewable energy additions, such as roof-top solar panels.

Nationally, almost 75 percent of PACE projects were less than $250,000 in size, demonstrating PACE’s popularity as a tool for small and medium-size businesses. Further, these project installations lead to increased property value and lower utility bills, making PACE projects attractive for both property owners and tenants alike.

The Future of PACE in Texas

Texas now has its first PACE program. But it shouldn’t stop here in Travis County. The state of Texas accounts for about 12 percent of the entire country’s energy use, and Texas’ unique PACE framework makes implementation across the state easy and predictable. In the next few months, we’ll be looking to help other counties follow with PACE programs of their own.

If you’d like to bring PACE to your county in Texas, please contact Keeping PACE in Texas. We look forward to making this powerful, free-market approach to clean energy available everywhere in Texas!

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  1. Posted March 30, 2015 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    Brackish water is a massive resource in many dry parts of the world which has now been made usable due to the KNEW process being able to extract the dissolved salts at an affordable cost. Seawater and brackish water near the coasts may be economically converted to pristine water by using reverse osmosis because the concentrated brine may be returned to the sea but inland this luxury does not exist so any process to remove the dissolved solids will have to convert these salts into usable products to avoid the very costly storage of these troublesome brines.
    In the KNEW process the brackish water from rivers or underground aquifers is filtered to remove coarse particles and pumped through an ion exchange battery to remove all the dissolved ions leaving a purified water for agricultural or household use.
    The ionex battery is regenerated with dilute nitric acid for the cation resin bank and ammonia solution for the anion resin bank. The nitrate blend is treated with sodium carbonate to cause all the multi-charged cations to precipitate and to be separated for use in agriculture as a soil ameliorant. The residual sodium nitrate solution is mixed with an equimolal amount of potassium chloride and evaporated with the result that the least soluble salt – sodium chloride – crystallizes out and is separated pure and dried for supply to the chlor-alkali industry. The residual liquor is cooled to produce a pure crystalline potassium nitrate which is separated and dried for supply to horticulture as a primary fertilizer. Another option is to use vegetable ash which has a very high potassium carbonate content as a raw material to precipitate out the multi-charged elements giving an even more economic route to the formation of this potassium nitrate.
    The anion regenerant solution is treated with methanol to precipitate out most of the ammonium sulfate almost chloride free and is separated, dried and supplied to agriculture as a fertilizer. The residual liquor is treated with sodium hydroxide to recover the ammonia content for recycling and the remaining sodium chloride is recovered by evaporation and added to the cation arisings for supply to industry.
    The overall economic picture of the process reveals that the sale of the potassium nitrate pays for the purchase of all the raw materials and the costs of operating the process and even leaves a reasonable profit. If the water produced can be sold -and this is not often the case – then an additional profit can be realized.
    The KNEW process is one of the few processes that can beneficially remove the worst and most difficult to deal with pollutant, namely, sodium. As over 60% of the world’s fresh water is used in agriculture and as most of this water evaporates on the soil to which it is applied this cation causes more devastation to the soil than all other dissolved solids together and must be removed from the environment. The KNEW process also removes all other dissolved ions beneficially and creates a lot of less skilled jobs in the chemical processing plants.

  2. Posted April 3, 2015 at 7:29 AM | Permalink

    Excellent Article….