The incentive (as opposed to rebate) programs tend to have a rigorous technical/engineering project review process that further guarantees the approved measures will, indeed, achieve energy savings and provides an estimate of how much.
These programs tend to have inspection, verification, and QA processes that cover installed measures (with incentive programs usually having more rigorous processes than rebate programs).
They reduce the amount of financing that applicants need to complete their clean energy projects.
Given those reasons, channeling PACE projects through existing utility rebate and incentive programs is a good practice that can shift some or perhaps a majority of the commercial PACE effort and cost of:
Reviewing projects to confirm the included measures are eligible and will save energy
Verifying contractor/auditor energy saving estimates for the measures
Verifying installation and QA of measures, possibly including onsite postinstallation inspections.
The potential drawbacks of participating in utility incentive programs (as opposed to rebate programs, which tend to be simpler) are as follows:
The application process can be long and onerous.
The review and approval can introduce significant time delays (could be as much as 30 to 45 days, although given the long lead time of many commercial projects, this may not be an issue).
The PACE program does not have direct control over but depends on third-party programs (if there are capacity issues, the PACE program cannot necessarily do anything about them).
The utility program might not cover all of a project’s measures, in which case separate review, approval, QA, and/or inspection processes would be required for different measures (i.e., those measures covered by the utility program versus those that are not). And coordination would be required between those separate processes for a single project.
A commercial PACE program could greatly benefit from leveraging existing utility rebate and incentive programs when a project’s measures are eligible for participation in those utility programs. Therefore, a key thing for local governments to determine is the amount of overlap between PACE program eligible measures and the utility rebate/incentive program eligible measures.
The PACE program can then be designed either to (a) require PACE applicants to also participate in any applicable utility rebate/incentive program, or (b) make it optional but then charge applicants additional fees for project review if they choose not to participate in the utility programs. An example of effectively leveraging an existing utility program is the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). It requires commercial properties to obtain a free onsite PG&E energy audit to determine the most effective route to maximizing their investment.
10. Plan Quality Assurance/Quality Control
In addition to the advantages mentioned in Section 9, one important reason for recommending that commercial PACE programs leverage existing rebate or incentive programs is that those utility initiatives (especially the customized incentive programs) typically perform inspections of installed measures to verify completion and quality. Another way for the PACE program to check on project completion and quality is to require that applicants submit the finalized building permits (for those measures that require
Chapter 13 —