On Friday, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing passed the Missouri state legislature making it the 21st state to allow for this innovative land secured financing mechanism.
Once again our unstoppable friends at Renew Missouri led the charge to get PACE legislation (incorporated into House Bill 1692) from sponsor to majority floor votes. But the birth of the Missouri PACE bill began when city planner Rosalind Williams of Ferguson, Missouri called Vote Solar HQ in early November. This go-getter had heard of other cities implementing PACE programs and wanted to do the same in her hometown. With her combination of vision, drive and local know-how, Rosalind was clearly a strong in-state collaborator for our PACE efforts in Missouri.
The first step of course was passing enabling legislation at the state level to give Missouri‘s municipalities the authority to do just that. Together we began to set about drafting a bill. Rosalind’s contacts at a local bond council firm helped draft strong PACE legislation (thanks Mark Spykerman) just in time for the start of the Missouri legislative session. From there we worked with the grassroots advocates at Renew Missouri who led the on the ground effort, coordinating city supporting resolutions, connecting with experts to answer all types of intricate finance questions and generally clearing the way for the bill’s success.
The PACE legislation garnered widespread, bipartisan support. Missouri‘s PACE supporters include Kansas City Power and Light, The Council for the Municipal League, Missouri Public Utilities Alliance, Missouri Energy Development Association, and several cities that passed supporting resolutions including St. Louis, St Louis County, Kansas City, Ferguson, and Creve Coeur.
The new law gives Missouri municipalities the authority they need to start these innovative finance programs for green retrofits. Now it’s up to pioneering cities to get these PACE programs up and running. In addition to reducing their community’s environmental impact, PACE programs give cities a strong tool for driving green job growth. These efficiency and renewable energy retrofits mean boots on roofs and installers put to work. Missouri‘s PACE passage is particularly timely as the state’s solar rebates and rooftop solar renewable energy credit (SREC) incentives programs are being rolled out as well – ready to help make solar even more accessible for Missourans. The final rules on those solar rebates and SREC purchases will be published within the month. Missouri is primed to go solar. And we couldn’t be happier to be part of that effort.
Last week Vote Solar’s Claudia Eyzaguirre traveled to Jefferson City, Missouri’s fine capital, to attend the final public comment hearing before the state sets its Renewable Energy Standard (RES) rules. Here’s her report from the road as Missouri aims for 15% renewables by 2021 . . .
Good news from Jefferson City. The final draft rules include many of the key local policies that make up solar’s recipe for success. For those keeping track, highlights include: a requirement for qualifying renewable energy to be delivered to Missouri customers, a standard offer for SREC purchase from small systems, simple administration of the $2/W rebate, and a fair accounting method calling for 10 year averaging on renewable cost recovery. I was glad to get the opportunity to endorse the many good points in the rules and recommend a few further clarifications to open solar incentives up to all customers – commercial, industrial and residential.
It was a long day, with solar interests well-represented alongside the utilities, industrial customers association, consumers’ council and wind industry representatives. At any time between one and four Commissioners were participating. As the hearing entered its eighth hour, and attention and patience waned, I was particularly happy to have the ever-competent PJ Wilson of Renew Missouri on our side.
We at Vote Solar have been collaborating with our dogged and dynamic friends at Renew Missouri since they first came to us in 2008 with the genius idea of running a state ballot proposition to create an RES. After Missouri voters passed the bill by a whopping 66%, I volunteered to roll up my sleeves and help dig into the fine print that is required to turn a renewable energy standard law into rules at the state Public Service Commission. Now in the home stretch, many of our recommendations have been adopted, and we expect to see a strong solar program in place soon.
Conveniently, the day after the hearing, our PACE bill was up for a Senate Energy Committee vote. PJ and I spent the morning in the state capitol tracking down key Senators to shore up any wavering votes. The vote was called just after noon, and the PACE bill sailed through the Committee 4-1. The trip turned out to be a very successful one. I always enjoy spending time with my Missouri counterparts who are leading the good fight on the ground. Jeff City, as the locals call it, now has a special place in my heart.
PJ Wilson, director of Renew Missouri and Claudia Eyzaguirre, Vote Solar in front of the Missouri statehouse