Missoula County Commissioners heard a resolution on Thursday that would help businesses to invest in renewable energy and conservation projects.

Diana Maneta, Missoula County sustainability program manager provides details.

“The county commissioners adopted a resolution of intent to establish a new C-PACE program. C-PACE stands for Commercial Property Assessed Capital Enhancements,” said Maneta. “It's a financing mechanism that allows commercial property owners to make energy conservation or renewable energy improvements to their property with no money down and then to pay those investments back through an assessment on their property taxes.”

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She explained the genesis of the C-PACE program.

“The Montana legislature passed a bill authorizing C-PACE in 2021,” she said. “A state agency called the Montana Facility Finance Authority has established guidelines for the program. However, for commercial property owners to participate, their local government has to opt in in order to put these assessments on property taxes, and so that's what Missoula County is doing. They’re opting in to say ‘yes, property owners in Missoula County can participate in this program’.”

Maneta explained the advantages of financing through the C-PACE program.

“The program is structured in such a way that they'll see savings on their utility bills that actually equal or exceed that extra cost,” she said. “They'll be paying on their property taxes, so there's no cost up front and then no net cost over time either to make these improvements, but they will be making improvements to their properties and so should see increase in property values along with this.”

She explained the many energy saving methods available through the C-PACE program.

“A whole wide range of improvements are eligible for this program,” she said. “Basically nearly anything that will save energy, save water, or produce renewable energy; so that could include higher efficient heating and cooling systems, high efficiency lighting, insulation, water saving measures, renewable energy systems like solar, or even electric vehicle charging stations would be eligible for this as well.”

The County Commissioners will meet again on February 24 to vote on the resolution.

If adopted, the resolution would designate all of Missoula County as a PACE district. More information on the program is online here.

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