First Selectman Gerard Smith explained that the town is exploring the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program.
The C-PACE program is a way for a municipality to help make money accessible to businesses who want to invest in green energy, renewable energy, or energy saving upgrades to their buildings.
“The whole idea behind C-PACE is to allow these projects to move forward with no upfront costs to the business owners or the municipalities,” said David Goldberg, communications director for the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, which oversees the program.
Goldberg said the program allows business owners to find funding for energy efficient and green energy improvements to their buildings. Goldberg explained that the funds can be used for items such as energy efficient heating, new windows, upgrading insulation, and other similar projects.
When a company secures funding the money is paid back through a tax lien, which is placed on the company, Goldberg said. Having it done as a lien makes it is a secure loan, which is more attractive to investors.
“Having a secured investment allows cheaper sources of financing,” Goldberg said.
Smith said the town would receive a fee for administering the loans and collecting the revenue.
“The first one to get paid is the town, and then everybody rolls from there,” Smith said.
Although the board is considering opting into the program, it is not completely sold on the idea yet.
“I have mixed feelings about it. There’s no reason not to do it, but as with anything we become a collector. I really don’t know if it’s going to offer that much of a benefit to businesses,” Smith said.
Goldberg, however, felt that both the town and the businesses would benefit from the program.
“If Beacon Falls has some commercial and industrial buildings that are good candidates for energy upgrades, I would believe even a small community such as Beacon Falls would be well served by the C-PACE,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg pointed out that energy costs are a huge consideration in opening and operating a business. The program assists municipalities in making the cost of operating lower and, in doing so, making the business more competitive, he said.
“For municipalities that want to support their businesses, customers, and building within their municipalities, one way to provide support is opting into C-PACE and allowing a program that brings capital into the private market and allowing these projects move forward with no upfront cost to business owners,” Goldberg said.
According to Goldberg, the C-PACE program began in the late summer of this year. If Beacon Falls moves forward with the program, it wouldn’t be the only municipality in state offering it, as Bridgeport, Hartford, Middletown, and Norwalk currently participate in it. There are also approximately 25 municipalities that are in the process of either opting into or considering opting into the program, Goldberg said.
Smith considers the fact that this is an “opt-in” program one of C-PACE’s benefits.
“I’m leaning towards thinking it’s probably a good thing. I think, if we can opt-in, we can opt-out if it becomes an issue,” Smith said.