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Massachusetts Commercial PACE Program Update

It is pleasant news that this program is reemerging after years in limbo. It was introduced by Gov. Baker as an innovative way to expand the roll out of rooftop solar arrays on commercial buildings. Announced in 2016, languished through 2019, received final legislative approval in the most recent budget, and hopefully ready to roll in 2020. Now, that does assume that certain details like grid interconnection, SMART incentives, net metering cap availability, municipal participation agreements, and willing commercial building owners all line up.

First, extensive thank you to state senator Diana DiZoglio for showing her commitment to environmental stewardship by finding and eliminating obstacles related to the program that preexisted in the state senate. It is a program that favors commercial rooftops because they are larger and more efficient when installing arrays, reduces costs of ownership and operations for commercial owners – more competitive with surrounding states, and provides a means for ownership transfer of the solar array in the event of building sale. This requires the cooperation of the municipality in treating the costs of the solar array as a betterment and include in real estate tax bills. This allows commercial owners to treat the solar array as a 20 year asset of the business vs. a one time expense that may never be recovered through a sale. Wendy O’Malley at Mass Development deserves kudos for all of her efforts across government also.

CI Works is working with the City of Amesbury, Massachusetts Development Agency, and tenant company – Summit Energy to leverage this state program on the roof of our building in Amesbury. The scope of the rooftop array will generate on an aggregate basis over a year approximately 80% of the building load. We have previously reduced our energy usage by a third in 2019 by switching to LED lights throughout the building. At periods of peak generation and no generation (nights) the building will leverage net metering program to sell excess power and buy needed power to complement the actual usage of the building. CI Works is also working with National Grid – through Energy Source and Encon Commercial Services to implement ‘smart’ thermometers throughout the building to further reduce electricity demand in the summer and heat demand during the winter. 11 Chestnut St. – at 100 + years old – may not yet be a net zero energy usage facility, but not because we aren’t trying and working together with our tenants and partners to get there.

All other commercial owners should make a similar effort related to their businesses to positively impact the environment!

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