TRENTON – The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee unanimously passed S1406, the N.J. Property Assessment Clean Energy (NJ PACE) Municipal Financing Program, on Monday.
The program provides financing options to allow municipalities to facilitate purchases of renewable energy systems or energy efficiency home improvements with loans for individual property owners. The proposed law provides municipalities with bonding capacity either through the state Economic Development Authority or county improvement authority, or through the issuance of municipal bonds.
State Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), of Piscataway – who along with state Sen. Kip Bateman, (R-16), of Branchburg, sponsored the bill – spoke before the committee.
“The municipality has to want to do it,” he said of the opt-in law. “The homeowner has to want to do it,” but it allows for the extremely low interest rates through the financial arms of the state or county.
“It’s a way in which we can stimulate (energy) efficiency and sustainability,” he said, “without much pain to anybody.”
In order to facilitate the repayment of the loan, the bill authorizes municipalities to impose a special assessment on the improved property and collect payments quarterly.
Committee Chairman Upendra Chivukula, (D-17), of Franklin Township, who sponsored the Assembly version, said federal stimulus money is petering out for ‘green’ projects: “
This is another way of coming up with the financing.”
Sierra Club state director Jeff Tittel added that it also fills a hole left by the elimination regarding solar rebates.