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«NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for ...»

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Economic Impacts from the

Boulder County, Colorado,

ClimateSmart Loan Program:

Using Property-Assessed Clean

Energy (PACE) Financing

Marshall Goldberg and Jill K. Cliburn

MRG & Associates

Jason Coughlin

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy

Efficiency & Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Technical Report


July 2011 Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308 Economic Impacts from the Boulder County, Colorado,

ClimateSmart Loan Program:

Using Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing Marshall Goldberg and Jill K. Cliburn MRG & Associates Jason Coughlin National Renewable Energy Laboratory Prepared under Task No. SM10.1710 NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Technical Report 1617 Cole Boulevard NREL/TP-7A20-52231 Golden, Colorado 80401 July 2011 303-275-3000 • www.nrel.gov Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308


This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States government.

Neither the United States government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States government or any agency thereof.

Available electronically at http://www.osti.gov/bridge Available for a processing fee to U.S. Department of Energy

and its contractors, in paper, from:

U.S. Department of Energy Of

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Cover Photos: (left to right) PIX 16416, PIX 17423, PIX 16560, PIX 17613, PIX 17436, PIX 17721 Printed on paper containing at least 50% wastepaper, including 10% post consumer waste.

Sponsor This report was made possible through funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America Communities program. The Solar America Communities program is designed to increase the use and integration of solar energy in communities across the United States.

Through federal-local partnerships and nationwide outreach, DOE supports local governments’ efforts to accelerate adoption of solar energy. To learn more, please visit www.solaramericacommunities.energy.gov.

Acknowledgment This publication was developed for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory by MRG & Associates under Subcontract No. AGG-0-40291-01. The document is not legal or tax advice or a legal opinion on specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for informational purposes only. The authors are solely responsible for errors and omissions.

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ii Table of Contents Sponsor


List of Acronyms

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

1 Introduction

1.1 PACE Financing 2007-2010

1.2 Assessing PACE Economic Benefits

1.3 Program Attributes that Affected Outcomes

1.4 CSLP Implementation Steps

2 Economic Analysis

2.1 Methodology

2.2 Analyzing the Spending from the CSLP

2.3 Macroeconomic Impacts

2.4 Macroeconomic Impacts Projected Through 2020

2.5 Economic Analysis Conclusions

3 Qualitative Assessment of CSLP

3.1 Purpose and Approach

3.2 Categorical Discussion of Trends

A. Spending on Energy Improvements Inspired by CSLP, but Financed Differently.......27 B. Spending on Nonqualifying Improvements Inspired Under CSLP

C. Impacts of the Economic Climate on Participants and Outcomes

D. Impacts of Program Design and Anticipated Changes

3.3 Qualitative Assessment Conclusions

4 Summary Conclusions and Observations

4.1 Results of Input-Output Analysis

4.2 Qualitative Assessment

Appendix 1

Boulder County ClimateSmart Loan Program in Context

iii Executive Summary This report examines the economic impacts (including job creation) from the Boulder County, Colorado, ClimateSmart Loan Program (CSLP), an example of Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. The CSLP was the first test of PACE financing on a multi-jurisdictional level (involving individual cities as well as the county government). It was also the first PACE program to comprehensively address energy efficiency measures and renewable energy, and it was the first funded by a public offering of both taxable and tax-exempt bonds. The first phase of the residential CSLP financed about $9.8 million in residential energy retrofits, most of which were completed in 2009. This report focuses on 598 project invoices and $9.0 million in project spending.

The report provides a program overview and economic impact analysis of program spending and energy savings using an input-output (I-O) model. The report also provides a qualitative assessment of factors that affected the resulting economic impacts, and profiles some program participants and contractors. The analysis focuses on Boulder County benefits but also includes an assessment of associated statewide economic benefits.

Results of the analysis indicate that:

CSLP spending in Boulder County alone contributed to 85 short-term jobs, more than • $5 million in earnings, and almost $14 million in economic activity in the county.

CSLP spending supported another 41 short-term jobs throughout the state but outside • of Boulder County, $2 million in additional earnings, and almost $6 million in additional economic activity statewide.

Assuming the program were extended with the same annual funding and participation, • the 5- and 10-year trajectory of economic impacts would forecast additional benefits and sustained job opportunities.

Reduced energy use saved participants a combined total of about $125,000 during the • first year on their electric and gas utility bills.

Total CSLP costs for Phase 1, including the development of a risk-management reserve fund, loan fees, loans, and other costs, totaled about $13 million. Short-term, in-county benefits alone exceed this investment. Statewide economic benefits enhance the program value.

From a qualitative perspective, there are indications that declining program implementation costs (including interest rates and costs related to the reserve fund, as well as marketing and administrative fine-tuning) would improve economic results in future CSLP funding cycles.

Program design decisions, including one that brought in a high percentage of out-of-town contractors, resulted in many of the economic benefits leaking from the local economy. Yet the program had a variety of objectives, including not only creating local jobs but also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from a range of measures. Some products and skill sets needed to meet these objectives were not readily available in the county. Further, the CSLP aimed to prime the pump for green jobs development in the county and statewide. By far, the greatest number of jobs gained (57% of in-county jobs) were related to solar photovoltaic (PV) projects. However, the first-year energy savings from PV are relatively small compared to the upfront cost of a PV installation, which is designed for long-term (30-year), fuel-free operation.

The qualitative assessment reveals that the CSLP spurred significant energy retrofit spending beyond that reflected on loan applications. Many residents attended CSLP informational sessions to learn more about potential home improvements, but then ended up financing those improvements through channels other than the CSLP, such as home equity lines of credit (HELOC), cash, or in the case of PV systems, leasing the system from a solar company. Cash spending and alternatively financed spending probably increased the total of all program-related spending by 20% or more. Most of this spending escaped documentation because it encompasses many possibilities, from the PV system that was purchased using home-equity lending to the replacement of leaky windows with those of a better quality, that did not meet loan qualification standards. Additionally, there were expenditures for retrofit-related paint jobs and cosmetic improvements, as well as major home remodels inspired by the availability of low-interest financing for at least part of the job. The relationship of these expenditures to the CSLP program was confirmed by surveys of CSLP workshop registrants and energy project contractors. CSLP program participants profiled in this report shed extra light on how the availability of PACE financing spurred the market for energy efficiency and renewables.

The Boulder County ClimateSmart program is one of only a handful of local PACE financing programs that reached implementation before the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) effectively placed a moratorium on such programs in July 2010. The CSLP proceeded with implementing a commercial PACE program, but it suspended the residential program, which was poised for Phase 2 implementation. The findings of this study show that continuing the CSLP would have additional benefits well beyond the increased cost-effectiveness from administrative

and marketing lessons learned. These benefits include:

Significant, long-term utility bill savings for participants.

• Job creation for Boulder County every year, including more than 90 jobs in 2020 • alone if the program were continued to that year.

An increase in overall economic activity in the county every year for the duration of • the program. Countywide economic output in 2020 alone would increase by approximately $15 million.

Expansion of statewide economic impacts and the likelihood that a growing market • for energy efficiency and renewables could attract higher-value manufacturing and related job benefits to the state.

Arguably, programs like the CSLP “prime the pump” establish a market for energy efficiency and renewable energy products that could be manufactured profitably in-state, creating much greater job impacts and economic benefits.

1 Introduction The Boulder County, Colorado, ClimateSmart Loan Program (CSLP) was the first test of Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing on a multi-jurisdictional level (involving individual cities as well as the county government). It was also the first PACE program to comprehensively address energy efficiency measures and renewable energy, and it was the first funded by a public offering of both taxable and tax-exempt bonds. Initiated in 2009, the first phase of the CSLP included two rounds of residential project financing and resulted in about $9.8 million in project loans. Associated program costs and fees and funding of a reserve account for the bonds added $3.2 million, for a total of about $13 million in Phase 1 program spending.

This makes it the second largest PACE financing program in operation through mid-2010, second to Sonoma County, California ($32.8 million).

The 2008 ballot measure that funded the CSLP authorized Boulder County to issue up to $40 million in bonds, including $14 million in tax-exempt bonds. The tax-exempt bonds were intended for low-income-qualified projects. Subsequently, the county sponsored two bond issues for Phase 1 residential financing. County administrators planned a second phase of the program to begin by mid-2010 for additional residential and commercial financing. However, due to a freeze on residential PACE programs nationwide that was imposed by federal mortgage agencies, Boulder County suspended residential CSLP financing indefinitely. As it was not directly affected by the freeze, the $12 million commercial program moved forward. Boulder County’s first commercial CSLP round closed in August 2010.

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