Displayed below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Click on the “>” icon associated with each question to view the answer.

What is C-PACE?

RI Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) is a financing program for commercial, industrial, agricultural, non-profit and multifamily (with 5 or more units) properties. C-PACE gives building owners owners access private-sector financing to upgrade their building with energy efficiency, clean energy, and water efficiency improvements. With C-PACE, building owners receive up to 100 percent financing with attractive repayment terms consistent with the useful life of the improvements (up to 25 years). This typically enables them to undertake larger building modernization projects that addresses multiple deficiencies.

In well-designed C-PACE projects, the energy cost savings exceed the PACE payments, creating a cash-flow-positive project. By using C-PACE, building owners can reduce their operating costs, improve the value and competitiveness of their building, meet energy performance goals, and increase their cash flow. C-PACE is also available to developers with new construction projects if they design their building to exceed current energy codes.

Repayment is facilitated through the municipal property tax assessment process. A voluntary assessment (similar to a sewer district assessment) is placed on the building owner’s property tax or other municipal bill. The assessment is repaid over the financing term (up to 25 years, project dependent) and the annual energy cost savings will, in most cases, exceed the annual assessment payment. As a result such projects are typically cash flow positive in the first year. Because the C-PACE assessment obligation runs with the property, the assessment automatically transfers to the next owner when the property is sold.

What building improvements are eligible for C-PACE financing?

The following list of typical, proven energy efficiency technologies is intended as a reference. The program administrator will review other proposed ECM(s) on a case-by-case basis.

Energy efficiency

  • Automated building controls (BMS, EMS)
  • Boilers, chillers and furnaces
  • Building envelope (insulation, glazing, windows, etc.)
  • High efficiency lighting
  • Hot water heating systems
  • HVAC upgrades
  • Roof replacement
  • Variable speed drives on motors, pumps and fans.

Renewable energy

  • Combined heat and power (CHP) systems
  • Fuel cells
  • Geothermal systems
  • Hydroelectric systems
  • Small wind systems
  • Solar PV
  • Solar thermal.
  • Renewable energy.

Water conservation

  • Irrigation systems
  • Low-flow fixtures (faucets, toilets, etc.).

Environmental health & safety

  • Asbestos & lead abatement

Other eligible expenses

  • Commissioning costs
  • Construction costs related to an eligible improvement
  • Energy audit costs
  • Engineering and design expenses
  • Measurement & verification costs
  • Permit fees
  • Renewable energy feasibility study costs.

This list is not comprehensive. Any improvements that result in utility cost savings and meet other program criteria will be considered under C-PACE.  See the C-PACE Program Guide, Section 3.B. Eligible Projects, for more information.

Who administers C-PACE?

After a competitive bidding process, the RIIB selected Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Inc. (SRS) to be the RI C-PACE program administrator.

What are the benefits of long-term C-PACE financing to building owners?

While many building owners need to upgrade their buildings, too often financial constraints get in the way.  C-PACE financing solves the financial issues by providing: 100 percent financing for a term consistent with the useful life of the improvements, generally up to 25 years. The benefits include:

  • Competitive, fixed interest rates
  • Zero out of pocket expense
  • Qualification for financing is based on the building’s financial health, and, as a result, the owner is not required to sign a personal guarantee
  • Decreased utility expenses from reduced electricity, fuel and water usage produce cash flow positive projects
  • C-PACE assessment payment obligation transfers to the new owner when the property is sold

Given the extraordinary benefits of C-PACE financing, owners and contractors can expand any energy related plan to include renewable energy equipment, water conservation measures, asbestos abatement and other related environmental health and safety improvements.

How do I know if my municipality is participating in the C-PACE program?

Visit the Participating Municipalities page for a current list of municipalities participating in the C-PACE program. C-PACE may only accept applications from property owners located in counties that have joined the program by passing a simple opt-in resolution. Feel free to email info@RI-CPACE.com if you have questions about getting your municipality to join C-PACE.

My building needs equipment replaced. Is it beneficial to add other improvements at the same time?

When you need to replace a roof, boiler, or other piece of equipment, it’s usually an unwanted expense. Add lighting or other measures that have better paybacks, though, and you may save enough on your utility bills to pay for the entire project. How do you know which measures make sense? Contact the C-PACE program director or a C-PACE project developer to learn more.

What’s the difference between a contractor and a C-PACE project developer? 

A contractor typically focuses on one or two aspects of energy efficiency or renewable energy, such as lighting, HVAC, or solar, for example, and can recommend and install the upgrades you need.

A C-PACE project developer, on the other hand, focuses on comprehensive retrofit projects. These firms will take a look at your entire building and model different project scenarios to help you determine which energy upgrades make sense and how best to finance the project.

Call a contractor if you know what your building needs and it encompasses only one or two measures. If you’re considering overhauling your building, though, a C-PACE project developer is probably the best place to start.

Does C-PACE use taxpayer dollars to fund projects?

No. C-PACE uses private capital to fund every project.  Visit the Capital Providers page of this website for a current list of capital providers participating in the C-PACE program. The cost to administer the program is paid by program participants through a Program Administration fee that is included in the total cost of each project.

Are C-PACE assessments considered “off balance sheet”? Is there clarity on the treatment of C-PACE as an operating expense from the perspective of the accounting industry?

Building owners are encouraged to consult their accountants on this matter.

From an accounting perspective, have any auditing firms concluded that the tax lien (which supports the financing) is not a liability of the owner or the building?

There has been no specific ruling by the Financial Accounting Standards Board on this issue.

When is the C-PACE assessment recorded on the property?

Upon closing of C-PACE financing, the program administrator instructs the municipal tax assessor to record an assessment (lien) on the municipality’s land records

Is this a voluntary program?

Yes. Owners who choose not to participate remain unaffected.

How do building owners qualify for financing?

Qualifying for C-PACE financing is based on the property, and not the owner. The C-PACE program administrator will look at:

  • The property’s estimated market value (assessed or appraised)
  • The amount of the owner’s equity in the property
  • The owner’s recent mortgage and property tax payment history
  • The dollar value of the proposed energy and/or water-saving improvements.
How much can a building owner borrow using C-PACE financing?

C-PACE projects typically range from $200,000 to more than $1 million. Constraints on the amount are driven by the financial health of the building and include:

  • Building financials
  • Loan-to-value percentage (<80 percent LTV is preferred)
  • Other considerations of the mortgage holder.
What are typical C-PACE financing interest rates?

To ensure the best possible terms, including interest rate and other fees, the building owner can review term sheets from multiple private capital providers, facilitated by the program administrator, to select the best fit.

How is the length of the repayment period determined?

Repayment periods can be 10, 15, 20, or 25 years, depending on the owner’s preference, and are limited by the weighted average effective useful life (EUL) of the financed improvements.

How are tax credits, rebates and utility incentives incorporated into C-PACE financing?

Property owners are encouraged to pursue available federal investment tax credits (ITC), utility rebates, and all other available incentives. All or a portion of total incentives may be subtracted from the amount financed under the C-PACE program.

Are there fees associated with pre-payment of a C-PACE assessment?

Each C-PACE participating private capital provider sets its own terms, including pre-payment, in its financing agreement with the building owner. It is common for C-PACE capital providers to include a pre-payment fee schedule.

Can I use any contractor?

Yes, however it is important that your contractor become a C-PACE registered contractor.   For more information on the registered contractor process, see the C-PACE Program Guidelines or email info@RI-CPACE.com.

Is there an application fee for C-PACE?

No there is no fee to apply for C-PACE financing.

How do I apply for C-PACE financing?

To apply, simply send a completed Application Form and email to application@RI-CPACE.com.

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