The Columbia County Board of Supervisors approved a local law to join the state’s energy development corporation to provide special financing options for commercial property owners to install energy-efficient and renewable energy technology.
The Board of Supervisors passed local law No. 2 of 2018 at its full board meeting Feb. 14. The second law of the year is a new version of local law No. 6 of 2017, which the board passed last November.
The legislation provides local businesses access to special financing options for high-efficiency and renewable energy projects through Energize NY — the state’s energy development corporation.
Businesses could receive up to full financing of projects from the Energy Improvement Corporation — a state non-profit local development corporation — with eligibility being determined not by credit scores, but by appraised value of the property and mortgage payment histories, also known as Property Assessed Clean Energy.
The county was approved as members of the program Dec. 6.
“Columbia Economic Development Corporation, through its new partnership with Energize NY, is excited to connect businesses in Columbia County with energy cost-saving solutions,” said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matthew Murell, R-Stockport. “Affordable energy is critical for growing businesses. By offering PACE financing, Columbia County is also making renewable energy more accessible to its commercial properties, thereby making the county’s energy infrastructure more competitive in the modern economy.”
The loan terms can last between five and 20 years and repayment is made through the owner’s property taxes.
The county is passing the law again, as are all other 40 counties participating in the program after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed amendments to the law creating the program to expand access to loans and increase potential benefits for businesses.
“Article 5-L, which allows for counties such as Columbia to participate in the program, was amended in September,” said EIC Executive Director Mark Thielking. “It had not been signed by the governor until after Columbia County passed its local law. Every county participating in the program is passing the amended local laws. It is house cleaning.”
Projects that qualify for financing through the program include energy-efficient boilers and controls, chillers and controls, insulation and air sealing, lighting, oil-to-gas conversions, pumps, windows, solar photovoltaic systems, solar thermal systems and geothermal and wind turbines. Community Solar/Remote Net Meter projects, such as the community solar field in Clermont that opened in December, are also eligible for financing under the amended law.
“The law has been amended to increase accessibility,” Thielking said. “We now have access to other sources, both at the federal and state level, for reserve funding. That is all flowing into Energize NY.”
One of the changes raised the cap on how much financing businesses could get from 10 percent of appraised property value to 35 percent, Thielking said.
Originally, projects could only be eligible if the savings outweighed the costs of the project, but under the amended law, costs can outweigh savings.
Energize NY also connects people to contractors who provide initial services for projects such as energy assessments and feasibility studies.
Columbia Economic Development Corporation will be helping the county find projects to benefit from the PACE program, President and CEO F. Michael Tucker said.
“CEDC is excited to serve as coordinator for the county,” Tucker said. “We are working to identify potential projects that could benefit from this program.”