The theme of this year’s New Jersey PACE Summit is “PACE: what’s possible for New Jersey?” The subtitle gives part of the answer: “Resiliency • Clean Energy • Jobs”— these are the major elements of the story, that will be explored at the conference. And there’s more to it as well — PACE can provide regenerative community benefits, support new technologies, and foster new approaches to the global challenges of our times.
PACE, which stands for “Property Assessed Clean Energy,” is redefined in NJ’s new amending legislation to include “the purchase, lease, or installation, or any combination thereof, of renewable energy systems or the energy produced by such systems, energy efficiency improvements, water conservation projects, flood resistant construction projects, hurricane resistant construction projects, storm shelter projects, or safe room projects, undertaken by property owners on properties within a municipality.”
In other words. the intent of a PACE program is to facilitate the financing of a wide array of initiatives designed to strengthen and harden NJ’s built environment against the impacts of extreme weather events and climate change. “Resiliency” means reinforcing all of our developed infrastructure and superstructure to withstand the realities of tomorrow’s world. Whether or not we can slow or reverse climate change, we need to adapt to what we have already experienced, which scientists predict will occur with increasing frequency in the future.
Energy, and energy self-sufficiency, is one part of this. How, and how much, we use energy today is well-understood and, for the most part, allocated by the market; but it’s ultimately about doing things that we can’t do without it.
All living things use energy and energy flows to sustain themselves, and humans use it to extend themselves beyond their individual physical capacities, to build cities, transport themselves, and extend knowledge through the internet and media of mass communication.
Using the least amount of energy possible, obtaining that energy from clean renewable resources, and having a backup supply are all critical to keeping things moving in a carbon-constrained world. Whether or not we can reverse the long-term impacts of global warming and cooling, certain changes are already occurring, and we need to prudently prepare for them.
At the same time, completely reorganizing the way we create, store, and transport energy is the work of decades and indeed generations, and is one of the largest economic opportunities we face today. PACE is a part of this transformation. How big a part depends on how it is deployed and how widely it is implemented; but the fact is that is that PACE offers virtually unlimited funds to make clean energy and resiliency improvements to private properties, providing such improvements are profitable over the long term.
Making our properties energy efficient, carbon-neutral, and better able to withstand storms, is something that adds value all the way around. It makes the property owner more secure, and saves them enough money to pay for the improvements and then some. The improvements pay for themselves. Meanwhile, the investor is getting a guaranteed fixed-rate return, contractors are busy, the building stock is worth more, and there’s reduced carbon emissions.
Undertaking this sort of massive, state-wide upgrade effort is also capable of bringing a boost to the economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs. As a state lagging in the economic recovery, this is exactly what New Jersey needs.
Somewhere between $6 and $12 billion dollars worth of PACE projects could get done over the next several years, which would strengthen communities, revive a major segment of the economy, and help make New Jersey a clean energy leader again.
The challenge, therefore, is how to get the most out of PACE in New Jersey. The Summit will pose this question to more than a dozen experts, legislators, and community leaders who are familiar with PACE; it will bring in experts from other states, attract municipal and county officials, and reach out to the more than 35 energy services contractors and solar installers already registered with the New Jersey PACE program. The Summit will start by providing the context and experience in other states, followed by a panel on the direct economic benefits of PACE. A second panel explores the community, social, and environmental benefits, and the final panel addresses the law and public policy.
Participants are invited to become directly involved in making PACE a reality in the state, working with NJPACE to create a robust industry and a dynamic and resilient future for New Jersey.
For more information, contact:
Victoria Zelin, Director of Development