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Bill Proposes PACE Financing for Water Conservation

Texas state Sen. John Carona (pictured) has introduced legislation that would allow building owners to use private sector financing for water conservation and energy-efficiency improvements through long-term loans paid with voluntary property assessments.

The proposed bill, the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act, would update an existing Texas law to include water conservation and would authorize municipalities and counties to use property assessments as an economic development tool, reported Fierce Energy.  The bill was referred Wednesday to the legislature’s Intergovernmental Relations committee, according to Carona’s office.

Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, is a financing program that provides a secure repayment system that allow private lenders to extend credit for water and energy efficient improvements.

Last year, 14 counties and 126 cities in California launched CaliforniaFIRST, the nation’s largest finance program for green building upgrades that uses the PACE financing model. In 2011 Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room launched PACE Commercial Consortium, a project in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Barclays Capital, Energi, HannoverRe and Ygrene Energy Fund, aimed at pumping $550 million into retrofitting green building technology in Miami-Dade County, Fla., and $100 million into projects in Sacramento, Calif.

Meanwhile in the UK, lobby group Waterwise has warned that methodology published last month by the Water Services Regulation Authority, or Ofwat, could hurt water efficiency efforts.

The regulator said it would use a cost-to-serve calculation to set retail controls, reported Utility Week. Water efficiency will be factored into the calculation. However, costs will be allocated to the retail side of the business. Waterwise argued many of the benefits are on the wholesale side. The separation of retail and wholesale price controls could make it harder to deliver water efficiency, according to Waterwise and industry group Water UK.

Ofwat has disputed the claims. A regulator spokeswoman said there “appears to be confusion among stakeholders” about how to recover the costs of water efficiency investments from the wholesale business and will hold workshops to provide clarity on the policy, reported Utility Week.

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