Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls introduced a motion that could change the way residents and businesses pay for powering their spaces with solar energy.
She says the benefits are two-fold -- increasing the demand for solar panel manufacturing and lowering the city's reliance on fossil fuels.
This plan is one of several energy-saving initiatives introduced since City Council adopted the Green Cincinnati Plan in 2008. That plan included a goal of one in every five Cincinnati buildings incorporating rooftop panels fueled by solar power by 2028.
"There's an emerging solar manufacturing sector here, and we would be creating a financing mechanism that would allow the demand to emerge for solar energy," Qualls says. "It's not a viable option for many property owners right now."
Qualls introduced a measure that directs the city to look into working with local environmental organizations like Green Umbrella
, the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance
and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority
to help create a Property Assisted Clean Energy, or PACE
, financing program.
PACE programs is a public/private initiative that are enabled by legislatures in nearly three dozen states across the country—including Ohio—which help business and homeowners pay for energy upgrades to existing buildings. Typically, participating property owners can finance those upgrades as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years.
"It's tax neutral, promotes 'going green' and reduces our carbon footprint," Qualls says.
The city has used the property tax assessment mechanism before for property owners who have been responsible for other large fixes, Qualls says.
"It has been done to pay for costly repairs over time—that's the same principle PACE follows," she says.
Ohio passed its PACE law in 2009. In 2012, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority issued the first PACE bonds in Ohio for a project to upgrade the City of Toledo’s municipal buildings.
Cincinnati must pass its own legislation for a local PACE program. Quall's motion directs the administration to bring the legislation back to Council within 60 days.
By Feoshia H. Davis
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