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Beverly, Salem planning participation in Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program

May 7, 2021 : Wicked Local

In July 2020, MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources launched Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Massachusetts, a mechanism to fund energy improvements on commercial and industrial buildings and multifamily properties with five or more units.

Aiming to join 41 municipalities across the commonwealth that have opted into the PACE program, Beverly Mayor Michael P. Cahill and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll must submit resolutions to their respective city councils to participate. Majority vote of a city council is required for a city to opt into the PACE program.

Through PACE Massachusetts, property owners can finance energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy by agreeing to a betterment assessment on their property, which repays the financing. This enables these building owners to implement energy improvements with longer payback periods of up to 20 years using a low-cost financing tool that runs with the property. More details about the program are available on the PACE Massachusetts website.

“The state’s new PACE program will help our larger business and multi-family residential property owners make big gains in energy efficiency and install clean energy-based heating and cooling systems, as well as rooftop solar and other improvements, helping our community do our part to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Cahill. "The financing made possible through this outstanding program will make these needed steps attractive and affordable."

In 2020, the Cities of Beverly and Salem partnered to create Resilient Together, a climate action and resilience plan to take collective climate action. The overall goal is to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, tracking with state, federal, and global targets to limit the planet's warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As the plan reaches its final stages of development this summer, Beverly and Salem are poised to continue their coordination and enable businesses to take action on climate through PACE Massachusetts.

“The PACE program has benefits for Salem property owners and for the city itself,” said Driscoll. “For the property owner, they gain advantageous, long-term, upfront financing to carry out capital projects that are likely to reduce their operating costs and increase their property values. The city benefits from job creation, business growth, an expansion of the tax base by increasing the property’s value, and the environmental and sustainability benefits realized from the reduced energy consumption of the property. I’m hopeful our city council advances the required approvals so that Salem’s property owners can take advantage of this innovative new clean energy and green building program from the state. We see this measure as an important tool in our efforts to meet our climate change and sustainability goals.”

Erina Keefe, Beverly's Sustainability Director, said residents already have access to energy efficiency incentives through initiatives like MassSave.

"The PACE program would expand opportunities for affordable efficiency and renewable energy investment to our business community," she said. "This program will also help to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions from commercial buildings, which account for a quarter of overall emissions in Beverly and Salem."

Commercial buildings account for 23.4% of community-wide emissions in Beverly and 25.5% in Salem.

Driscoll filed the council resolution at the April 22 Salem City Council meeting and it was referred to the Council’s Committee on Public Health, Safety, and the Environment for a hearing on Thursday, May 6. The committee voted unanimously to send the resolution back to City Council with a favorable recommendation for the May 13 meeting.

Cahill filed the council resolution for the May 3 meeting and MassDevelopment gave a presentation on PACE Massachusetts. The Beverly resolution will be considered at the May 17 city council meeting.