City commission advances energy efficiency program for commercial properties

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The St. Joseph City Commission has directed city officials to dig deeper into a program that would help companies pay for energy efficiency improvements. The PACE program enables a specific tax assessment to be applied to a specific property so that an efficiency project can pay for itself over time and not all at once. The commission heard from PACE’s Cornerstone Alliance at a July meeting and referred the matter to its sustainability committee at the time. At the committee meeting last night, Laura Goos from the committee gave an update.

“It’s the Property Assessed Clean Energy program,” said Goos. “It enables a special lender tax assessment that allows you to pay for HVAC system upgrades and other environmentally friendly upgrades for commercial real estate only.”

Goos said the special valuations are paid for only by the landowners who receive them and there would be no cost to the city’s taxpayers. She added that the lender, who works with a commercial property that wants to carry out the energy upgrades, would pay the administrative costs. With PACE, the property’s special valuation would remain with the property until it is paid out, even if it is sold. PACE was introduced by 29 counties in Michigan. The commission voted on Monday for city officials to continue studying the program.

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