The biggest barrier to making a building more energy efficient can be cost.

Greener buildings can make sense for the planet and for the pocketbook in the longer-term. In the short run, there’s the cost of the refit or upgrade.

Enter CPACE, or Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy. You may start hearing about it more in Deschutes County, because county commissioners may consider allowing it here.

CPACE is a way to finance 100% of a clean-energy project’s costs for commercial buildings. It’s then repaid over time by adding a voluntary tax on the property.

The tax mechanism provides an added layer of confidence for the lender. The repayment obligation would transfer to the next owner of the property.

For the loan recipient, it can mean zero out-of-pocket costs. It can mean a longer time to repay the loan. That could enable a more substantial energy project. And, of course, the loan recipient gets to start reaping the energy rewards.

CPACE is not a federal program. It doesn’t require public money. Presumably there would be some minor cost to the taxing entity to run it and to set up procedures for how to run it. PaceNation, a nonprofit that promotes such programs, says more than 2,500 projects have been completed using it.

States have to authorize it. More than half the states have. It’s legal in Oregon. Enabling legislation for Oregon was passed in 2014 and 2015. It requires approval from the local government. And that’s why the idea of CPACE may come before the Deschutes County Commission. There’s already an active PACE program in Multnomah County.

There are also versions of it for residential properties — RPACE, or Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy. That’s newer. Only a few states have commercial and residential programs.

PACE programs have raised some concerns. For instance, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors have had issues with the “super lien status.” As a 2020 research paper pointed out: “PACE financing is voluntarily applied to the property as a special assessment added to the property tax bill, and as such, like all property taxes, is senior to any first mortgage....” If there is a foreclosure, though, the paper pointed out the risk is limited to the PACE assessments that are past due at that point in time of the foreclosure — not the entire obligation. Additionally, there has been concern that consumers might not understand what they are getting into with PACE financing.

CPACE is an intriguing way more businesses in the county could go greener. But Deschutes County commissioners will surely have many questions to ask before allowing it here. There is more information about such programs here: and there is a related guest column elsewhere on the editorial page.

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(3) comments


Anyone interested in more information on CPACE should look at a local environmental group. I believe the loans come from private lenders.

As someone who has been involved in historic renovation and low/moderate housing development for many years I think that any method that can help commercial property be more sustainable is a idea worth promoting. It is time for Deschutes County to do what it can to promote environmental sustainability.

Transitory Inflation

Thank you.

Transitory Inflation

Where is the capital coming from?

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