The Story of PACE

It is more than six years since I first wrote a memo proposing the PACE concept in Berkeley. Today, as the CEO of a company dedicated to helping our nation finance an energy transformation, I have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. There have been successes and setbacks. But we can all take great pride in the speed with which the nation has embraced PACE—and other financing innovations—as tools to reduce energy use and create jobs. Local and state leaders grabbed hold of the idea and used it to help solve problems in their local communities. Regardless of the outcome of the regulatory debates in Washington, we’ve proven that financing works, that we can make great change quickly, and that local and state governments can lead. Now it is up to us to make good on that promise.

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Leveraging LIHEAP Funds

The reason for leveraging Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds by attaining non-federal supplemental funding is simple: there has never been enough federal funding to meet the energy assistance and energy efficiency needs of low-income households. Historically, the federal LIHEAP has provided assistance to roughly one-fifth of eligible households. In adopting a leveraging incentive program, federal lawmakers reasoned that providing grantees with financial rewards based upon the amount of leveraging resources they attained would incentivize them to attain additional resources.

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View from Village Hall

Everyone knows the United States has 50 states. But do you know how many counties are in those states? (3,034 to be exact.) And how many municipal or township governments are in those counties? (35,933 in total!)

Every one of these nearly 36,000 local governments buys and consumes large quantities of energy—electricity, natural gas, heating and fuel oil, gasoline, and more. Yet, as local governments, we often have scant grasp of the energy marketplace or whether alternatives are even possible or desirable.

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Buildings account for more than 40% of U.S. national energy use. Existing, proven technology can reduce building energy use by up to 50%, producing savings that more than pay for such green retrofit projects. The deployment potential for deep energy retrofits, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, gas-fired cogeneration and microgrids, among other commercially available technologies is unprecedented. These “building clean energy” technologies can cut commercial, institutional and industrial power demand and emissions while reducing energy costs and improving the reliability of the power grid.

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