HUDSON — Mayor Kamal Johnson signed a resolution to help commercial property owners in the city finance energy-efficient construction and improvement projects.
Energize NY Open C-PACE will be discussed by the Common Council in connection with another resolution calling for an agreement with the Energy Improvement Corporation. Signing this resolution will move the initiative forward.
The Energy Improvement Corporation is a statewide nonprofit local development corporation that administers C-PACE financing for member municipalities.
C-PACE stands for Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy. The New York program is available to cities and counties. In Westchester County, it is also available to towns.
The aim of the program is to provide long-term financing to commercial property owners. Hudson took part in the program from September 2016 until the program’s reboot in April 2019, which provided new incentives for participants.
The program was not used by property owners in Hudson, according to Sarah Smiley, EIC NY PACE director of Member Services.
The new version of the program that piloted in April 2019 eases administrative burdens on municipalities and provides more financing options for larger projects, so participants can now choose from a list of capital providers to finance their project, Smiley said.
The town of Bedford in Westchester County was the first municipality in New York to join the new program in May 2019.
Mayoral Aide Michael Chameides said he believes the new program will be better for Hudson.
“It’s a nice opportunity for us because it removes some of the liability and some of the management/administration. My understanding is that people have not taken advantage of the program to date,” he said.
“This new program, I think, will make it easier for people to proceed and take advantage of it, while also it will be less financial liability and less time to manage the program going forward,” he added. “So I think it’s an all-around improvement.”
Financing through the C-PACE program is connected to the property, so if someone sells C-PACE-financed property, the new owner would assume the remaining payments.
While the debt for the improvements will be attached to the building, so will the energy savings, Chameides said. This model makes it easier to create energy improvements in Hudson.
“For the property owner, it’s essentially an alternative source of capital,” Smiley said. “Instead of going to the bank for a loan, which maybe they would have to pay in 5 to 7 years, they could opt to use this type of financing, which is paid back over a much longer term.”
Projects that receive financing through the C-PACE program must follow requirements set by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, according to Smiley.
“They set out what the qualifications are for projects to be able to use C-PACE financing,” she said. “So there has to be an energy audit done on the project or a renewable energy capability study in order to utilize this type of financing.”
The Energize NY program is part of a larger initiative by the Climate Smart Taskforce that Johnson initiated, Chameides said.
The purpose of the committee is to document work that has been done and come up with a plan to prioritize next steps, he said.
Chameides said that while there have been past initiatives to address environmental issues in Hudson, there has not always been a clear implementation of them.
The earlier implementation of Energize New York was one of those instances, he said.
“It’s great that people took initiative and signed onto Energize New York, and then there wasn’t a clear follow-through for the years going forward, and so the legislation changed and we needed to update it, and that never quite happened,” he said. “And it’s not clear to me how much the public knows they can take advantage of this.”
Energize New York is one of several initiatives to address climate change not just in Johnson’s administration but over several years in the city of Hudson, Chameides said.
“The stakes are quite high,” he said. “Climate change is going to have devastating impacts on Hudson and has already had devastating impacts across the globe.”
The Energize New York program can help reduce carbon emissions and, at the same time, energy costs.
“This is a way to help people economically while also helping the environment, and we are excited to be doing a project like this,” Chameides said.
Smiley said 54 municipalities in New York have signed up for the new program and more are in the process of joining. About 50 took part in the old program.
“We’re really happy that the city is moving forward with opting into the new program and happy to see so much interest across the state because we think it would be a great environmental benefit tool and also an economic development tool for municipalities,” Smiley said.