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The Center Square, Brent Addleman

Massachusetts' clean energy finance program expanding its scope

July 11, 2023

(The Center Square) – A clean energy finance program in Massachusetts is expanding its reach.

The Property Assessed Clean Energy Massachusetts program is making new construction and existing buildings eligible for a program that would finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, MassDevelopment said Tuesday.

“PACE Massachusetts is an important resource that helps improve efficiency, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and advance our economic competitiveness in Massachusetts,” Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao, chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors, said in a statement. “Expanding this program to serve both new and existing properties will ensure our building stock is modernized to help meet our climate goals.”

The program was launched in July 2020, according to a release, and serves as a long-term option for financing commercial and industrial properties, along with multi-family dwellings with more than five units.

According to a release, the original Section 23M, the program’s statute under state law, only permitted existing buildings to be eligible for financing. However, in August 2022, the Partnerships for Growth bill adjusted the rule to include new construction to be eligible for funding.

Following public review and comment periods featuring amended program guidelines, both existing and new construction are eligible for inclusion in the program.

“Our PACE Massachusetts program is a ‘two-for,’ helping property owners make their buildings more energy efficient and save money,” MassDevelopment President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Rivera said in a statement. “This change to make new construction buildings eligible for financing will significantly expand the program’s reach and further advance the Commonwealth’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.”

According to a release, the program grants owners of commercial property an opportunity to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through a betterment assessment. The assessment would repay the financing. The program is designed to help property owners avoid new debt by offering the grant program, which includes solar panels, energy management systems, geothermal, lighting, insulation, HVAC systems, and more.

According to a release, towns, and cities throughout the state are required to vote to opt into the program. To date, 68 municipalities, including Boston, are in the program.