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City joins state program to spur energy improvements for buildings

October 29, 2020 : Daily Hampshire Gazette, by Bera Dunau

EASTHAMPTON — The city has signed on to the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which will make it easier for developers to add energy improvements to buildings.

“It’s just another tool that we can use to keep development going,” said Mayor Nicole LaChapelle.

The program allows for eligible properties to have energy improvements paid for over time through betterment assessments, the money from which pays off the private financing for the improvements. The program applies to existing structures, not new construction.

“PACE Massachusetts is a forward-thinking financing tool for energy improvements to commercial and industrial properties,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss, via email. “We’re proud that so far 31 cities and towns across the state including the city of Easthampton have voted to ‘opt in’ and enable local property owners to take advantage of PACE Massachusetts, and we continue to encourage other communities to explore how the program can support job creation, encourage business growth, and reduce energy consumption.”

Eligible properties include commercial and industrial buildings and multifamily properties with five or more units that are not owned by municipalities or government entities. Energy improvements under the program include improvements that reduce energy consumption and add renewable energy systems, as well as some gas line extensions.

A number of other communities in the commonwealth have signed onto the PACE program, including Northampton and Greenfield. The Easthampton City Council unanimously voted to do so on Oct. 14.

“This kind of law gives infinite opportunities to our commercial (and) industrial building owners,” said City Councilor Owen Zaret, who introduced the legislation. “At no liability to the city.”

Zaret also said that the legislation received support from mill building owners.

More information about the PACE program can be found at massdevelopment.com/pace.