The Solar Foundation helps make it easier to finance solar projects and allow even more people to enjoy the benefits of clean, affordable solar energy. One recent example of our work is a program called CivicPACE.

CivicPACE helped nonprofit tax-exempt organizations such as affordable housing, faith-based institutions, and schools gain greater access to solar financing. These institutions can face difficulties obtaining traditional bank financing because they are often viewed as a credit risk. We helped overcome this challenge using Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which finances property improvements that are paid back through a line item on the property owner’s tax bill.

Led by The Solar Foundation, the CivicPACE team produced informative research to share with finance professionals, nonprofit organizations, and local government affiliates (such as PACE administrators). The team supported two pilot solar projects using CivicPACE financing in Washington, D.C, and provided technical assistance to help over 20 jurisdictions use PACE financing arrangements.

Today, PACE is a time-tested solution for many nonprofit organizations to pursue solar financing, but the market is still underserved — in part because the process of using PACE is so complex. The CivicPACE program helps provide a roadmap for more of these community institutions to go solar.

CivicPACE was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Our partners were Urban Ingenuity and Clean Energy Solutions.

CivicPACE Toolkit and Replication Guide

This Toolkit and Replication Guide features lessons learned and best practices on PACE financing for tax-exempt organizations. This report goes into detail on the benefits of PACE for the nonprofit sector; power purchase agreements (PPAs) and third-party ownership; PACE and affordable housing; and more. Read the report now.

Civic Power: A Primer on PACE-Secured Solar Power Purchase Agreements

In this report, we explore in depth how securing PPAs with PACE financing may be a particularly useful tool for nonprofit organizations. Read the report now.

Case Study: Elsie Whitlow Public Charter School

The CivicPACE team partnered with the Elsie Whitlow Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. to set up PACE financing for a 35 kW solar array. Along with mechanical upgrades to reduce energy and water use, the saved the school nearly $10,000 each year. The team worked on the identification, assessment, contractor selection, project underwriting, and arrangement of the PACE financing. Our team also provided financial modeling to prove the installation would yield a positive cash flow. Learn more about the project.

Case Study: Phyllis Wheatley YWCA

The Phyllis Wheatley YWCA in Washington, D.C. is an 84-unit affordable and transitional housing facility. Financed through PACE, the solar installation and energy efficiency improvements will save nearly $6,000 a year. The CivicPACE team worked with local government agencies to obtain U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approval of an inter-creditor agreement, ensuring the property would remain affordable housing for at least 40 years while maintaining compatibility with PACE security structures. This is an important precedent for incorporating PACE into mixed finance projects. Learn more.


VIDEO: Learn More About CivicPACE

Project Partners

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More Solar Finance Resources

The CivicPACE program produced resources to educate local jurisdictions and stakeholders on pathways to extend PACE financing to civic organizations. Learn more about PACE for nonprofits from the nation’s PACE association, PACENation.

If you would like to learn more about solar finance opportunities in your community, contact us now.