The new law will help commercial property owners finance the upfront costs of installing clean energy upgrades, such as new solar panels.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Gov. Wolf signs bill to help finance clean energy, efficiency projects

  • Marie Cusick

Governor Tom Wolf signed a bipartisan bill Tuesday, aimed at helping commercial property owners finance the costs of installing renewable energy, water conservation, and energy efficiency upgrades.

The measure, known as Act 30, creates a voluntary program, allowing municipal governments to set up energy improvement districts. Private lenders can then give money to agricultural, commercial, or industrial property owners who want to finance energy-efficiency and clean energy technology upgrades, such as solar panels, water pumps, or insulation. The loan is repaid through a tax payment that remains attached to the upgraded building, even if the owner later relocates and sells the property.

Nearly three dozen other states and Washington D.C. have adopted similar financing programs, known as Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE).

The bill is a rare show of bipartisanship in Harrisburg on an energy or environmental issue. Sen. John Blake (D- Luzerne) and Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R- Allegheny) co-sponsored the measure, which passed state Senate in January and was approved by the House in May.

“The PACE program is a voluntary market-driven initiative which will create jobs and enhance Pennsylvania’s clean energy portfolio,” Blake said in a statement. “I have enjoyed working with my colleague Senator Guy Reschenthaler and wish to thank Governor Wolf for signing this bipartisan legislation into law and I look forward to working with our communities to begin implementing PACE in Pennsylvania.”

The bill also had broad support from labor and environmental groups.

“This is an important victory in the effort to promote clean energy in Pennsylvania,” said David Masur, of PennEnvironment. “It’s impressive when Democrats and Republicans, environmentalists and labor unions, and business leaders can all come together to pass a critical clean energy policy like this.”

Jeffrey Scarpello, of the Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association also praised the new program.

“PACE financing will help our contractors provide needed energy solutions for their commercial and industrial customers while putting electricians to work,” he said.