Virginia counties are encouraged to create local programs that spur capital investments in commercial buildings for energy improvements

August 24, 2018

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) is encouraging local governments to create public-private partnerships that allow building owners to finance 100 percent of the upfront cost of energy and water efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems with very low out-of-pocket expenses.

Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, is voluntary for building owners, and loans are provided by private capital providers and lenders–so starting a C-PACE program does not require a local government to issue bonds or add debt. Benefits to local governments include creating high-wage jobs, community revitalization, and retaining and attracting businesses. The Virginia market is poised for growth: in January of this year, Arlington County launched Arlington C-PACE, the first C-PACE program in the Commonwealth, and others are expected to follow.

To start a program, counties must pass an enabling ordinance, as established in 2015 by Virginia State Code (§15.2–958.3). The C-PACE loan security is established through a special assessment lien on the property. The property owner repays the special assessment on the property tax bill. Most of the day-to-day operations of a C-PACE program can be undertaken by a private or not-for-profit program administrator (PA). The PA will offset its costs through fees charged to building owners to participate. Local governments may procure a C-PACE PA administrator through competitive solicitation (Request for Proposals), or may pursue cooperative procurement with Arlington County.

The Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance (MAPA) is a regional partnership of C-PACE program sponsors, administrators and other organizations developed to advance C-PACE in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. MAPA recently released the Regional C-PACE Toolkit, a comprehensive resource for local governments, with guidance, best practices, and example documents for developing a C-PACE program.  As another helpful resource, the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council has developed a C-PACE program model ordinance.

Local government representatives with questions about C-PACE or MAPA, are encouraged to contact Daniel Farrell, Energy Financing Program Manager at 804.692.3207, or

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

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