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Smith Legislation Expanding Property Assessed Clean Energy Program Advances

Senator Bob Smith congratulates Congressman Donald Norcross on his succession to the U.S. House of Representatives.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Bob Smith that would authorize municipalities to facilitate public or private financing of water conservation, storm resiliency projects, and energy projects through the use of voluntary special assessments was passed by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today.

Under current law, the governing body of a municipality 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 “clean energy special assessment” to be imposed on those properties when the property owner has requested the assessment in exchange for receiving assistance with the initial financing.

“New Jersey needs to start upgrading its buildings to become greener and more efficient.  We also need to upgrade our infrastructure in order to withstand powerful storms like Superstorm Sandy,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset).  “Through PACE, municipalities will be able to provide initial financing for improving the sustainability and efficiency of buildings or properties.”

The bill, S-1611, would provide new options for financing of energy, water and storm resistance projects through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

A 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, hurricane resistant construction projects, storm shelter projects, and safe room projects.

Under the bill, owners of industrial, agricultural, commercial, 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 institution may participate in the program.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0, and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.