Little Rock to Become the State's 3rd Energy Improvement District
City Council votes unanimously to establish local Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program
Little Rock, AR – Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), an innovative financing mechanism that has sparked energy savings and job growth around the country, will soon be available to Little Rock property owners after the Little Rock City Board of Directors unanimously adopted an ordinance Tuesday night creating an Energy Improvement District defined by the Little Rock city limits.
The Little Rock ordinance also authorized establishment of a seven-member board of directors to oversee creation and administration of the new program during the months ahead. The Little Rock Board’s action requires no public funding and results in no financial liability to the city, but it does enable the private sector – contractors, financial institutions and commercial property owners – to launch energy savings projects within the district that will conserve energy and create jobs.
The Little Rock Board’s action means that property owners in three of Arkansas’s largest cities will have access to PACE financing. The cities of Fayetteville and North Little Rock adopted ordinances last year. Fayetteville formally launched its program, www.a2e2.net , in December, 2014.
The Arkansas legislature adopted legislation in 2013 (Act 1074) that enabled local jurisdictions in the state to establish energy improvement districts, appoint boards of directors and adopt rules and procedures for their new program. Once established, the program allows commercial property owners to access 100% loans that are secured by the tax assessment on their property.
Projects fall under three categories: energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation. State law requires that the project must result in positive cash flow for the customer (energy savings must exceed cost of the loan).
Next steps for Little Rock will focus on appointment of the new district’s seven directors. The ordinance requires that the board “shall be comprised of qualified candidates having background, experience and expertise in at least one of the following areas:
· Municipal finance, banking, and/commercial lending;
· Public accounting;
· Real estate development and commercial construction;
· Legal services;
· Architecture and/or professional engineering; and,
· The advanced energy industry, including energy efficiency or “green building” contracting and consultation.
Mayor Stodola appoints his designee and the remaining six board members are appointed by agreement of the Little Rock Board.
The Little Rock Sustainability Commission, chaired by local attorney Ben Brenner, first urged adoption of PACE in the city with a unanimous recommendation to the Mayor in May 2014. The Commission stated that the PACE program would be consistent with the city’s sustainable building practices, energy savings and job creation. The Commission’s goals are to see PACE in Little Rock launched and the first project funded no later than 2016. Brenner presented the proposed ordinance to City Board members Tuesday night.
“The creation of the Little Rock Energy Improvement District is the fruit of a year of collaboration between the Little Rock Sustainability Commission, Mayor Stodola, the City Manager’s office, and AAEA,” said Brenner. “Little Rock’s vision is to be a leading city of the 21st century. As I told the Little Rock Board of Directors last night, leading cities empowers their citizens and their businesses with programs like PACE.”
The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) has remained a strong advocate for local adoption of PACE throughout the state because it addresses the most significant barrier to energy efficiency and renewable energy development. That is low-cost, 100% financing with terms of up to 20 years, depending on the life of the energy improvement. AAEA energy savings companies CEOs estimate potential job growth among their companies at 30 percent where PACE programs are in place.
“This is a critical first step toward establishment of an innovative financing mechanism in Little Rock that will enable commercial property owners in Little Rock to improve their properties and save energy costs,” said Steve Patterson, Executive Director of AAEA. “There is a very good reason why PACE is rapidly expanding across the country as a practical way for property owners to save energy and improve cash flow.”
PACE has been adopted in 24 states and the District of Columbia since 2008. More than 225 projects have been completed nationally totaling more than $73 million with another $225 million in projects in various stages of development.
To read a summary of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation, click here: http://arkansasadvancedenergy.com/files/dmfile/PACESUMMARY.2.13.pdf
Arkansas Advanced Energy Association is a business group dedicated to growing Arkansas’s economy by expanding our energy workforce and manufacturing base through the increased development, manufacture, and utilization of advanced energy technologies. www.arkansasadvancedenergy.com
The Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation is the educational affiliate of the AAEA. The Foundation promotes greater public understanding of advanced energy in Arkansas through research, public education programs and economic and workforce development. The Foundation is dedicated to informing the energy policy debate with well-researched, fact-based data on the advanced energy economy in Arkansas and by providing a public forum where state leaders can address Arkansas’s energy challenges for the future. www.arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org
Report Shows Economic Impacts of Advanced Energy in Arkansas
A report released in January 2015 by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation (AAEF) shows that 25,000 Arkansans are working in the state's advanced energy sector, with a total impact on the Arkansas economy of $2.8 billion in output. "The Economic Impact of Advanced Energy in Arkansas: A Survey of Business Activity in 2014” can be viewed or downloaded at www.arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org
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