Your rural voice: Providing a pathway for clean energy investment

Your rural voice is a collection of testimony, official comments, appropriations requests, and other formal communications from the Center for Rural Affairs to government departments, officials, and more. Each item was written and delivered by our staff on behalf of you, our constituent, as we work to build a more vibrant future for rural communities.

This testimony was submitted in support of House Bill (HB) 1090 to the South Dakota Commerce and Energy Committee on Feb. 8, 2019.

The Center for Rural Affairs would like to issue its support of HB 1090, to provide for the establishment of commercial property assessed clean energy systems (C-PACE).

Nationally, South Dakota ranks 46th for energy efficiency programs and policy. HB 1090 would improve on that ranking by giving South Dakota counties the ability to create C-PACE programs if they so choose. These programs provide opportunities for local businesses to access low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects. C-PACE allows businesses to make clean energy improvements that are designed to exceed the annual assessment payment, allowing property owners to save money right away.

C-PACE encourages businesses to invest in their area, creating jobs and using the local workforce to make those energy-saving improvements to existing buildings or to build new buildings with energy-saving features. Additionally, counties are able to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy without putting general funds at risk.

C-PACE can cover 100 percent of a project’s cost with terms up to 20 years, and financing is repaid as a special assessment on the property’s regular property assessment bill. C-PACE financing is “non-recourse,” meaning it’s tied to the property, and transfers with ownership of the property. C-PACE programs can be further tailored to meet the unique needs of their state or community.

PACE programs are already enabled in 36 states, including Nebraska, Colorado, and Minnesota, and  it’s time for South Dakota to join. Enabling this legislation gives counties the choice to create these programs, as establishing a C-PACE program is completely voluntary for both counties and property owners to participate.

Attached, you’ll find our fact sheet further analyzing C-PACE and its implementation in South Dakota. We urge your support of HB 1090, and thank you for your consideration of this bill.

Feature photo: If commercial property assessed clean energy systems (C-PACE) is established in South Dakota, businesses in communities like Custer would have access to low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects.  |  Photo by Rhea Landholm