What if you could add a major upgrade to your local business in Tennessee – one that cuts the top operating expense significantly for years to come – and you could stretch out the payment for that upgrade over several years via your property tax bill? You can. It’s called C-PACER. Except, depending on where your business is located in Tennessee, you can’t. Let me try to explain.
C-PACER stands for Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resiliency (C-PACER). It allows a commercial property owner to work with an approved lender, within a participating local community, to finance an energy upgrade like adding solar energy, storage and backup power; or even water conservation; or other energy-saving projects. Then the program allows the property owner to make payments for that energy upgrade for years to come at the same time they pay property taxes. Adding solar could potentially slash utility bills while adding resilience.
Why can or can’t you participate in C-PACER? Because only three areas so far have adopted this program: Memphis in late 2022 and Metro Nashville/Davidson County as well as Chattanooga in early 2023. C-PACER depends on local government leaders agreeing to fold this program into its current system of assessing property taxes, then adding this payment option for property owners. It involves the local government issuing a special lien and voluntary assessment on the property. This is long-term financing, transferrable upon the sale of the property, that can significantly improve cash flow for business owners.
Dozens of other states already allow this special energy financing option. Time will tell how the program is opened up to help businesses in this state. You can ask your local banker about the program and a willingness to participate, as well as asking city or county leaders if they’re interested in how the program can help their constituents thrive.
One leader in the nonprofit lending field is Pathway Lending, whose Energy Loan department is educating others in the industry. For more information to help you explore C-PACER in your community, the Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association is also a great resource. No doubt about it: C-PACER is a tool involving energy upgrades that is really about economic development.