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New Loan Program in Richmond Could Incentivize Green Development

Richmond City Councilwoman Kristen Larson.
The ordinance allowing for the new C-PACE program was sponsored by Richmond City Councilwoman Kristen Larson. (Photo: Roberto Roldan/VPM)

The City of Richmond has a new incentive for property owners wanting to make energy-efficient upgrades. City Council voted to let residents to sign up for what’s called the C-PACE program at its meeting Tuesday night.

The C-PACE program allows owners of older properties and new developments to get long-term loans for energy-efficient equipment. The program appeals to people interested in green energy, but it’s also not too expensive: with a longer-term loan of 15 or 20 years, the monthly energy savings can be enough to pay for the loan. 

Bill Greenleaf is a Richmond-based C-PACE advocate and was a member of a 2016 working group set up by the city to study the program. He said the group found there are an ample amount of qualifying properties in the city.

“There’s an advantage in having smaller monthly loan payment that could be smaller than your energy savings,” Greenleaf said. “You’re cash flow positive. That’s the whole purpose.”

Most C-PACE programs are managed by a third-party and loans are provided by private lenders. Fourth District City Councilwoman Kristen Larson said that means the city isn’t on the hook financially.

Larson, who sponsored the ordinance, said the program is one of the few incentives the city has for encouraging sustainability as the Richmond grows.

“It encourages our developers to develop in a way that is cleaner than what they might normally do,” Larson said.

Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration said two full-time staff may be needed to coordinate with the third-party manager and to educate the public about the program.

The ordinance was supported by local developers and commercial property owners, including Spy Rock, University Property and Crescent Preservation and Development Co.

Richmond’s program will be modeled off of Loudoun County’s, which started earlier this year. Officials in Petersburg, Alexandria and Fredericksburg have also voted to allow C-PACE financing since the state passed enabling legislation in 2015. 

Residents will be able to apply for Richmond’s C-PACE program starting on July 1, 2020. You can learn more about the program here.