to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

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Sustainable Energy Loan Program

County Legislature Approves Sustainable Energy Loan Program

The Tompkins County Legislature, by a 12-1 vote, approved a new proposal last month to establish a sustainable energy loan program in Tompkins County. The program will provide property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for local energy-related improvement projects by implementing the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program, as authorized under state law.

The Legislature also authorized the County Administrator to enter into a municipal agreement on behalf of the County with the Energy Improvement Corporation to implement and administer the program.

The PACE program offers low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, supporting up to the entire project cost, for existing properties owned by a commercial or not-for-profit entity.

Repayments will be collected by the municipality through a charge on the tax bill. While commercially owned multi-family residential properties are among the types covered, non-commercial residential properties are not, due to federal objections to PACE financing for properties with potential to qualify for federally subsidized mortgage loans.

At the public hearing in advance of the vote, Joe DelSindaco, of Energize NY Finance, responded to questions about the use of local labor, saying that Energize NY, through its extensive outreach and training program, has been effective in getting local labor involved in the sustainable energy projects. He suggested it would be better to avoid restrictions on energy-efficiency projects employing natural gas, as had been suggested in discussion at the Legislature's last meeting. Based on that issue, Legislator Dooley Kiefer voted no.

Economic Development Committee Chair Martha Robertson expressed excitement about the program, which has made PACE financing feasible for local government. County Administrator Joe Mareane called the Energize NY program "really important" and acknowledged Planning Commissioner Ed Marx and Deputy Commissioner Katie Borgella for their work in bringing the program forward. He also praised the Energize NY group for its integrity and responsiveness.

- Marcia Lynch, ithaca.com, 5/6/15