PACE PICKS UP THE PACE
The Trump administration has clearly announced its opposition to a progressive environmental agenda. They have followed through on their campaign promises to divert and subvert the global campaign to make renewable energy a center piece of our campaigns to defeat global climate change. Among the first actions taken by the new administration was to compile lists of government workers who had been working on climate change in the federal government. In addition they issued an order to erase all climate change scientific data held by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others agencies as well. They nominated and confirmed a new EPA chief who is a litigious climate denier. Indeed, his experience with the EPA features years of suing the agency in an effort to weaken it. Finally, they issued a new budget proposal which cuts the EPA budget by over 30%, effectively destroying the agency's ability to fulfill its mission.
Given these facts it is hard not to conclude that our new leadership is serious about derailing efforts to deal with compelling environmental issues. In this case they mean what they say and they clearly intend to continue to move their agenda forward. Included are most renewable energy Initiatives. Given the bedrock belief of President Trump, that global warming is a Chinese hoax, all forms of renewable energy are in danger. Chief among them, primarily because of their overwhelming growth in the consumer market, are residential rooftop solar photovoltaic and solar water heating systems. When both systems are at work in a residential setting electricity becomes nearly completely free. In the US, in 2015 we generated 13.4% of our domestically produces electricity from renewable sources. In California the percentage was 29.1%. In addition, non-residential solar power is growing at a torrid pace. Each year its contribution to US production grows more substantial. Finally, all the other adjuncts to renewable production - energy efficiency, building retrofits, energy efficient doors and windows, air conditioning and heating are also growing year by year.
However, despite the general good news regarding renewable production there are still segments of our population that cannot afford to purchase residential systems. Even with the virtually guaranteed results of solar systems the price of admission is still too high for many Americans. Far too many of us find ourselves stuck in an uncomfortable spot where relief is available but not achievable. These renewable "orphans" are frustrated and angry. Many feel that they are excluded from not only the benefits of participating in the renewable revolution, they also feel they are missing out on the fun. They need help.
WHAT WE CAN DO
The good news is that the pace of adoption of residential rooftop solar, and other energy efficiency programs is benefiting from some innovative financial thinking and products. One of the most popular, and effective among them are what is known as PACE programs. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. It works by shielding homeowners and others from some of barriers to renewable energy deployment. Traditionally prospects for solar photovoltaics have been reluctant to take the plunge because of high up-front costs and the fear that, if they choose to finance the purchase of approved systems, and choose to sell their homes before they have paid off the loan, that they will lose the benefits of their system and still have to pay off their loan. What PACE does is work with the local government to transfer the liability for the loan to the home's property tax bill. With this program the debt stays the house and becomes the responsibility of the buyer of the house.
What's even more important is the fact that PACE programs, and others as well, give us opportunities to achieve our personal and societal environmental goals. As of now the PACE paradigm is not vulnerable to attack from the Trump administration. It serves to encourage us to do the right thing and help our society as well as ourselves. Renewable energy is at the very heart of our efforts to protect and preserve our environment. We should all do our best to support PACE, to utilize PACE and to enjoy its benefits while slowing the pace of the President's efforts undo the progress we have made together.
CLICK HERE for information on PACE programs, including areas of the US which currently offer PACE services.
Check out an article entitled "PACE Financing Is the Solution to America's Silent Housing Crisis" authored by the CEO of a major PACE supplier.
The American Council For An Energy Efficient Economy is a clearinghouse for information and resources on all areas of energy efficiency.