By MORGAN FRISCH

Recorder News Staff

Montgomery County has become an Energize NY member in an effort to incentivize property owners to make energy efficient upgrades.

According to a release issued last week by Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort, Energize NY Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing allows commercial buildings access to long-term, low interest capital for renewable energy and/or energy efficiency improvements. This financing is then repaid on the yearly tax bill.

Montgomery County Senior Planner/ GIS Specialist Amanda Bearcroft said the program is for projects that would provide energy efficiency and renewable energy for commercial, multifamily, light industrial and non-profit owned buildings.

“Mostly, we are planning to do it to county facilities to save taxpayer money, through this PACE financing,” Bearcroft said. “It covers the whole county except the City of Amsterdam. If the city wanted to do it, they would have to pass this PACE Energize NY themselves.”

Some of the improvements building owners could be looking at are a range of energy efficiency measures including lighting, insulation and air sealing, heating and cooling systems, smart controls, energy storage and combined heat and power, as well as, renewable energy installations such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal.

“It’s thinking about energy efficient lighting or thinking about a new heating and cooling system,” Bearcroft said.

She said some of these projects might cost more upfront, but will save money in the long run.

“That’s why [Energize NY] are willing to help people finance these, so they can then get on the back end of saving money in these buildings,” Bearcroft said.

Montgomery County joins 38 other municipalities in the state that have signed on with Energize NY, as a means to support their economic development and environmental goals, according to the release. The Legislature adopted a local law this past spring, becoming the first in the Mohawk Valley to enter into an agreement.

“Montgomery County is excited to become the first Energize NY member in the Mohawk Valley,” Ossenfort stated. “We view this program and financing option as a great tool being made available to businesses and various entities that own buildings in the county and will allow them to upgrade their properties, while becoming more energy efficient.”

PACE financing, which has been used in 31 states nationwide, is repaid through an annual charge on the property’s tax bill, which automatically transfers to a new owner if the property is sold, according to the release. The financing is based on the property’s ability to save energy, not on traditional credit measures. All Energize NY financing generates savings to the building owner on day one, with annual savings exceeding the annual cost of the financing.

“It’s just another financial leveraging option for people, similar to how applicants will come to the county’s IDA (Industrial Development Agency) for funding if they are doing energy efficient upgrades to a building,” Bearcroft said. “They can now get this funding through the county.”

Ossenfort said Energize NY is an important bridge between the aspirations of much lower gas emissions and the concrete steps needed to achieve that vision.

“We look forward to working with members of the community on this economic development initiative in order to help them eliminate energy wasted in their buildings and by encouraging building owners, property owners and businesses to upgrade their properties to create savings,” he said.

To be eligible for this financing option, the post improvement energy bills and the financing repayment must be less than the pre-improvement energy bills, guaranteeing savings.

Bearcroft said if people are interested in seeing if they are eligible a link for Energize NY can be found at MCBDC.org, or they can go directly to the website and apply.

“I believe that Energize NY is all about making it affordable,” she said. “People aren’t really aware, so it’s making them aware that there are programs out there like this and just giving them more low cost, long-term options instead of going to a bank or just not doing it at all.”