PACE in Texas: The Future of Contractual Assessment Financing for Conservation Improvements
Twenty-eight states have passed Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) enabling legislation but most – including Texas – do not have fully operational PACE programs. In some instances, this failure of PACE law to translate into concrete action may be due to drafting defects or to evolving PACE best practices that have rendered early-adopted laws obsolescent. In other instances, it may stem from the chilling effect of actions by mortgage regulators.
In March 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals resolved the last of a series of legal challenges against mortgage regulators, establishing a period of at least temporary regulatory stability. Meanwhile, PACE supporters have continued to trumpet the investment and environmental opportunities in commercial, industrial and multifamily real estate retrofits. Several states have tried to capture these tailwinds by adopting or amending PACE statutes in ways that facilitate non-residential PACE and incorporate lessons learned from pilot programs and recent policy debates.
Texas is such a state. Bills introduced this legislative session – S.B. 385 and H.B. 1094 – would reconfigure PACE statutes first enacted in 2009 by expanding PACE to encompass water conservation and steering financing toward commercial, industrial and multifamily properties. If they pass, the bills could serve as a blueprint for other states that either have not passed PACE legislation or have PACE laws on the books that have yet to spawn actual PACE programs.