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Rhode Island sets the PACE for clean energy

Last week Rhode Island’s General Assembly passed a new bill that will enable residential property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing to make it easier for homeowners to go solar. It’s one of few states that have enacted a PACE program for residents. While 28 states and Washington, D.C., have passed PACE bills, most only cover commercial properties and municipalities. The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law.

Residential PACE programs are hard to come by because when they were first proposed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi-governmental mortgage giants, contended that such programs could invalidate their mortgages. Since then, however, some states, like VermontFlorida and now Rhode Island have started to allow residential PACE loans. The PACE loans can carry much lower interest rates than other residential solar financing options.

“PACE will make it practical for mainly middle-class homeowners who might otherwise be unable to afford energy improvements to make them, saving them money on their energy bills now and in the future and adding to the value of their property. Besides helping those homeowners, PACE will contribute to our economy by generating construction and renovation activity, and will help reduce our state’s carbon footprint. This legislation is a win-win-win for our state,” said State Rep. Arthur Handy (D), a sponsor of the bill in the House. Read more.