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Mayor Bowser Announces New Solar Financing Program for DC Businesses

Friday, August 21, 2015

(Washington, DC) —Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the District’s first energy efficiency and clean energy finance program, DC PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Commercial.  The program will provide 100 percent financing for businesses and commercial property owners to install clean energy upgrades, with no out-of-pocket payments.

“The District of Columbia is leading the nation in green building, and DC PACE adds yet another innovative tool for building a greener, more prosperous city,” said Mayor Bowser. “DC PACE creates green jobs and infuses investment into our local economy – at no cost to taxpayers or the District’s budget.   That is a good deal for local businesses, our environment, and residents in the District of Columbia.”

Through a voluntary special assessment on real estate taxes, DC PACE projects are structured so that business owners save more money over the life of the projects to cover the cost of installation - thus lowering utility bills and improving net operating income, while reducing the District’s overall carbon footprint.

“This is smart government,” said the District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells. “With DC PACE, we are using public policy to drive private investment into bricks-and-mortar projects that build the District of Columbia’s clean energy economy while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.  And it’s available to all businesses and commercial property owners as of today.”

Managed by DOEE, DC PACE is funding its first new project – a 37kW solar installation for a family-owned BP gas station on Georgia Avenue, NW.  The project was financed using private capital from United Bank, and will produce over 40,000 kilowatt hours of renewable electricity every year, cutting the business owner’s electricity bill by more than 40 percent.

“I have been considering installing solar panels for several years now, but the large upfront investment prevented me from initiating this project. With 100 percent financing under the PACE program, I didn’t have to put any money down, and my new roof is included in the financing,” said Sergey Nikolaev, owner of the BP Station. “Not only is this project energy efficient, it’s cost effective for me as the energy savings are higher than the PACE payments.”

The DC PACE program is administered for DOEE by the local firm Urban Ingenuity, which is now managing a pipeline of over $50 million in clean energy projects within the District, with additional DC PACE closings expected in coming months.

“DC PACE is key to bringing equitable and sustainable economic growth to all eight wards in the District of Columbia,” explained Bracken Hendricks, CEO of Urban Ingenuity. “This project advances the Bowser Administration’s priorities in economic development, neighborhood revitalization, housing affordability, and job creation, even as it cuts utility bills and reduces harmful emissions.”

DC PACE Commercial is the first PACE program active in the Metropolitan Washington region, and new Commercial PACE programs are under development elsewhere in Maryland and Virginia. 

Along with the DC-based Solar Foundation, Urban Ingenuity is also a recipient of a U.S. Department of Energy Grant to support the use of Civic PACE, a financing to expand the use of solar power for nonprofit and civic institutions like churches, schools, and affordable housing projects.

For additional information on DC PACE, visit: doee.dc.gov/service/dc-pace-commercial.