Colorado C-PACE: Easy and Affordable Commercial Solar Financing

Written By Tina Boniface

On March 2, 2016

At a Glance:

Get solar panels on your commercial building, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money, and greatly increase the value of your building by taking advantage of the Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program.

The C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) program for commercial properties has launched in Boulder County. The program will enable commercial property owners to finance up to 100% of the cost of a solar system (as well as other energy efficiency improvements, e.g. lighting, insulation, roof replacement, heating/cooling systems).

“The original model for PACE originated in California more than a decade ago. It was so successful that cities, counties and states have replicated it all across the country. To put the program into action, a city or state sells municipal bonds and uses the money to lend to property owners. The program emerged in response to the poor financial model of solar leasing, which many experts believe prevented this money-saving technology from proliferating as quickly as it should. The issue of ownership and transferability was also a significant problem with leasing. If the owner sought to sell the property, moving the system wasn’t an option, but transferring the lease to a new buyer was difficult. Although other alternative energy financing options exist today, not everyone has access to them.” (from Intermountain Wind & Solar)

Financing for C-PACE is provided by private capital providers at competitive rates with repayment terms up to twenty years with an assessment added to the property tax bill. Yearly energy savings will more than offset the assessment payments.

The building owner is eligible for the 30% federal solar tax credit and all other local and state incentives (as applicable) as well as a five-year MACRS (accelerated depreciation) schedule including the option for bonus depreciation.

Dollar Bill

To be eligible, projects must meet the following criteria:

  • Located in Boulder county
  • Commercial, industrial, agricultural, non-profit, or multi-family properties
  • Owned by an eligible property owner
  • “Renewable energy improvement” or “energy efficiency improvement”
  • Project cost must be a minimum of $100K

Special consideration is given for new construction.

Solar Power System with View of the Flat Irons
ground-mounted solar system

Program highlights: 

  • No upfront costs
  • Repayment through property taxes (up to a 20-year period)
  • Available to all building owners regardless of credit profile (underwriting based on building value, not traditional credit review requirements, i.e. company tax returns / financials and owner guarantees)
  • Like other property taxes, PACE assessments transfer to new owner if building is sold
  • Enjoy positive cash flow immediately
  • C-PACE loan covers full project cost
  • Helps increase bottom line by reducing energy costs
  • C-PACE will cover the cost of roof replacement
  • Program will cover battery backup / storage (with or without solar panels)

Independent Power System’s past experience with PACE:

Independent Power Systems provided a number of solar installations using the PACE program (then known as Climate Smart) for residential properties during the program’s active period from 2009 – 2010. The program at that time operated similarly to the current C-PACE program.

To learn more about the C-PACE program and to find out how much energy your building can produce,contactIndependent Power Systems today.

Dan Perata

About the Author

Tina Boniface loves to travel, and has worked with people of all ages and cultures in her many journeys. She is a skilled communicator with nearly two decades worth of experience teaching ESL at various American colleges and universities as well as extensive social media and editorial experience. She is fluent in English and French, with intermediate proficiency in Spanish, Italian, and German. In her free time, Tina enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, reading extensively, cooking, eating, and practicing yoga.  

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