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Senate Advances Smith Bill Expanding Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program

Trenton – In an effort to strengthen and expand energy and water infrastructure, the Senate advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Smith, which would provide new options for the financing of energy, water, and storm resilience projects through the Garden State commercial property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) program.


“New Jersey needs to start upgrading its buildings to become greener and more efficient. We also need to upgrade our physical and energy infrastructure in order to withstand powerful storms like Superstorm Sandy,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset), Chair of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. “Through C-PACE, municipalities will be able to provide initial financing for improving the sustainability and efficiency of buildings or properties. It is only a matter of time until we are confronted with another catastrophic storm, and when that occurs, we have to be ready.”


The bill, S-1953, would allow larger, authorized municipalities to finance energy conservation and clean energy projects, and then recover the cost through special property tax assessments. The C-PACE program would allow projects to have potentially up to one hundred percent financing. Additionally, county governments would be authorized to develop their own local C-PACE programs.


Under the bill, owners of industrial, agricultural, commercial, or residential property with five or more dwelling units, and property owned by a tax-exempt or nonprofit entity such as a school, hospital, institution of higher education, or religious institutions may participate in the program.


Under current law, a municipal government may undertake the financing of the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements made by property owners. By ordinance, the municipality may provide for a C-PACE assessment to be imposed on those properties when the property owner has requested the assessment in exchange for receiving assistance with the initial financing.


A C-PACE project may include the purchase, lease, or installation of renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, energy storage, microgrids, water conservation projects, flood resistant construction projects and hurricane resistant construction projects.


The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 38-1.