July 14, 2020
Bruce Elfant, the Travis County tax-assessor-collector, received the first-ever PACESetter Award for his commitment to energy efficiency.
The award was given by the national Property Assessed Clean Energy Nation (PACEnation).
The PACE program enables business property owners and nonprofit organizations that own property to receive low-cost, long-term financing for water conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects. The loans come from the program’s approved lenders.
Property owners repay loans through a property assessment and should a business owner choose to sell the property, the loan is assumed by the new owner. In traditional financing, loans must be paid in their entirety when a property is sold.
The PACESetter Award recognizes Elfant’s work with state legislators to secure passage of a 2013 law allowing Texas local governments to establish their own PACE program. In 2015, the Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously approved the creation of a PACE program, becoming the state’s first government entity to embrace the program.
“I am honored to receive this award, and yes, it took a lot of work on my part, but I want to credit the Texas Legislature and the Travis County Commissioners Court for their tremendous support in making it possible for our state to offer an affordable way for business property owners to reduce their environmental impact and upgrade their properties,” Elfant said.
Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea said the commissioners court is proud of Elfant for winning the award.
“He deserves it for all the leg work he did over several years to make this possible,” Shea said. “ I was honored to work with Bruce to be the first county in Texas to adopt this great program.
“It is that rare win-win, good for business and good for the environment,” Shea added.
Nonprofit organizations with building facilities also can apply for loans and in 2016 the county tax office awarded its first PACE contract to Austin’s Congregation Beth Israel.
The synagogue needed $450,000 to update its boilers and chillers and add insulation in its auditorium. The congregation was spending $15,000 a year or more to fix a substandard heating and cooling system and by installing upgrades under the PACE program the projected energy cost savings was $35,000 annually.
Watch Elfant’s acceptance speech on Facebook.