May 19, 2021

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Government of Canada announce funding through the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) for PACE Maritimes, a financing program to help homeowners make energy efficiency retrofits in Charlottetown and Stratford, Prince Edward Island and in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Delivered by FCM, GMF is a $1.65 billion endowment from the Government of Canada. GMF supports local innovation that can be replicated and scaled up across the country to tackle Canada’s climate challenges. Since 2000, GMF has helped bring over 1,360 projects to life which have cut 2.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of taking 608,000 cars off the road and created over 11,650 jobs across the country.

PACE Maritimes

Lead applicant: Town of Stratford
Lead municipalities: Town of Stratford (PE), City of Charlottetown (PE), Town of Wolfville (NS)
Sector: Energy - Community Efficiency Financing
Approved funding through the Green Municipal Fund: $14,058,500
Loan: $10,000,000
Grant: $4,058,500

PACE Atlantic CIC is launching PACE Maritimes, a multi-provincial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The initial scope of the program will include Stratford (PE), Charlottetown (PE) and Wolfville (NS), but it will eventually extend to elsewhere in the Maritimes. PACE Atlantic is a registered community interest corporation (CIC), which is a hybrid corporate model consisting of a private corporation with a public benefit mandate.

The program will fund residential projects for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy storage across the three municipalities.

Additional targeted programs in Wolfville and Charlottetown will provide rebates to support fuel-switching from oil (to protect the municipal water supply) and lead pipe replacement, respectively. Program participants will receive support throughout their engagement with PACE Maritimes through an online tool for customer engagement, option-exploration, advisory services, contractor selection and application/contract completion. This toolkit will be paired with a back-end workflow tool to help contractors with management reporting requirements.

The PACE Maritimes program is linked to the Partners for Climate Protection commitments in all three municipalities, as well as specific environmental council priorities (i.e., reducing oil spills in Wolfville and replacing lead pipes in Charlottetown).

Financing terms extended to homeowners:

  • Loan amount: A maximum of 15% of the assessed home value will be available to finance efficiency and renewable energy investments. There is no minimum loan value.
  • Loan terms and repayment: Repayment periods will be up to 15 years. Repayments will be made directly to municipalities through PACE liens- that are to be repaid monthly through the homeowner’s property tax bill.
  • Interest rates: Currently anticipated at 2.75%, the actual rate will be based on a 0.5% span on top of the borrowing rate (which is currently projected at 2.25%).
  • Underwriting criteria: Homeowner eligibility will be based on tax payment history, with the only criteria being that homeowners cannot be in arrears in their property taxes before participating.
  • Additional fees or charges to participants: A 5% administration fee will be applied to each project processed through the PACE Maritimes program.
  • Consumer protection measures: PACE Atlantic CIC will develop workflow tools that would include an initial review of costs as well as a certificate of completion to ensure contractors are in line with expected norms. The program will also develop a “RateMyContractor” app, which will allow homeowners to see reviews of contractors in their areas.
  • Other: Homeowners can accelerate repayments at any time without penalty.

Municipalities will manage payment of contractors and registration of homeowner PACE liens on properties once work is completed. PACE Atlantic CIC will act as the program administrator and will be paid by the municipalities for this service. Provincial rebates over $5,000 will be routed through the municipalities to be applied directly against the loan amount. All other rebates will be routed directly to homeowners to apply to their loan amounts as they see fit.

Environmental benefits:

  • The program is anticipated to reduce energy usage by 26,795 GJ/year and greenhouse gas emissions by 1,167 tCO2e/year across the three municipalities.
  • The City of Charlottetown is currently paying to replace the existing water mains that are made of lead pipes; PACE Maritimes will help to finance the lateral connections on private property, increasing program uptake.
  • The Town of Wolfville has identified residential oil spills as a significant risk to the municipal water supply system; PACE Maritimes will support residents in replacing oil tanks with electric heat pumps.

Social and economic benefits:

  • The program is expected to create more than 210 jobs across the three municipalities.
  • Low-income households will be targeted through strategic marketing (energy poverty is particularly acute in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, with lower average incomes and higher energy costs in those provinces).

Innovative aspect(s):

  • The CIC program administrator model is considered an innovative platform to support the growth of a PACE program.
  • The program demonstrates innovative design features including a grassroots marketing approach, complex workflow tools, context-specific upgrade options, and more.

Replicability:

  • PACE Atlantic CIC is already in communication with other municipalities in the Maritimes who are considering launching their own PACE programs.
  • Various toolkits, tools and resources will be made available to other municipalities wishing to implement similar programs.

(Project description from original funding application)

Feasibility study of multiple energy retrofits for City of Charlottetown municipal facilities

Lead applicant: City of Charlottetown
Sector: Energy
Approved funding through the Green Municipal Fund: $175,000

The City of Charlottetown will contract Honeywell Energy Services Group to study the feasibility of multiple building upgrades at 22 municipal facilities with a total floor area of more than 400,000 square feet. Among these facilities are a police station, a wastewater treatment plant, and several arenas. The comprehensive study will evaluate the energy, financial and social benefits of retrofitting measures aimed at reducing building energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving occupant comfort and safety.

Potential measures to be studied include ice plant heat-recovery systems, building automation systems, air- and ground-source heat pumps, solar PV, solar air-heating collectors, a biogas co-generation plant, and systems to protect from airborne viral infection spread indoors. This initiative is supported by the city’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (2017), which prioritizes renewable energy and energy efficiency in municipal facilities; its Community Energy Plan (2018), which sets the goal of achieving 40% GHG reduction by 2030; and its recent Climate Emergency Declaration (2019).

To support this GMF application, Honeywell conducted an early assessment of eight facilities. Based on this assessment, the initiative will target the following: a 33% reduction in building energy use across the portfolio (roughly 25% from energy-efficiency measures and 8% from renewable energy generation); a 22% reduction in water consumption; and a 717 tCO2e reduction in GHG emissions. If successful, community benefits will include a reduction in the city’s dependence on fossil fuels, decreased facility energy and maintenance costs, increased life expectancy of municipal facilities, improved air quality and stimulus for the local economy. Another potential benefit is increased public environmental awareness through the conversion of a civic centre into a nearly zero-carbon facility featuring a live renewable energy educational lab.

Honeywell was selected through a competitive bidding process to conduct an investment-grade audit of the study buildings, including conceptual designs of the evaluated measures, energy simulations, cost–benefit analyses, and measurement and verification planning. The final study will be reviewed by relevant city departments and two municipal corporations before it is taken to City Council for approval. The city will then sign an energy performance contract (EPC) with Honeywell to implement the selected measures and guarantee the energy savings found in the study. The city will only be billed for the study if it agrees to implement the recommended measures.

Innovative aspect(s):

  • The study will evaluate multiple innovative technologies, including cloud-based building automation systems, geothermal, solar air-heating systems, ice plant heat recovery, a live renewable energy lab, and engineered measures to prevent airborne virus spread (a measure that may be of particular interest considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic).
  • The study will be a component of a larger energy performance contract, where the cost of implementation is offset by energy and operational savings; energy performance contracts have not been widely adopted by municipal governments.

Replicability:

  • The proposed measures and energy performance contract implementation model could be replicated by municipalities across Canada. Because the implemented measures and energy services company are paid back over time, energy performance contracts would be of most benefit to municipalities that lack the capacity and financial resources to take on simultaneous energy improvement projects across their building portfolios.

(Project description from original funding application)

Green Municipal Fund
Energy
Environment
Housing
Infrastructure
Sustainability
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