PACE Program Introduced To Wicomico Council

SALISBURY – A loan program is expected to benefit commercial property owners in Wicomico County who want to pursue green energy projects.

In a Wicomico County Council meeting Tuesday, officials introduced a legislative bill that would establish a Clean Energy Loan Program, a Maryland Commercial PACE – Property Assessed Clean Energy – program that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation projects that will be repaid through the property’s tax bill.

Bill Chambers, president and CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, introduced the program to the county council in a work session late last month.

He said the PACE program would allow commercial property owners to make their buildings energy efficient and allow county governments to create jobs, retain businesses and keep dollars in the local economy without raising taxes.

In 2014, Maryland passed policy that enabled PACE to work in the state. The law, however, requires that local ordinances be passed to take advantage of PACE financing.

“Since property taxes are collected at the county and city level, the law requires local ordinances be passed to take advantage of the financing,” he said.

Chambers said the county council had considered establishing a PACE program in years past, but didn’t have eligible commercial projects that would benefit from the program.

He noted that a current renovation project at 132 E. Main Street would serve as a pilot project for the local program should it be established. The property owner has plans to convert office space into apartments and utilize energy efficient building practices.

The council voted 6-0, with Councilman John Hall absent, to introduce the legislative bill. A public hearing will be held on May 1 at 6 p.m.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.