Displayed below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Click on the “>” icon associated with each question to view the answer.

Renewable Energy Contractors FAQs

What is Colorado C-PACE?

Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) is a program that helps building owners access private-sector financing to upgrade their building with energy efficiency, clean energy, and water efficiency improvements. With C-PACE, building owners receive up to 100 percent financing with attractive repayment terms consistent with the useful life of the improvements (up to 20 years). This typically enables them to undertake larger building modernization projects that addresses multiple deficiencies.

In well-designed C-PACE projects, the energy cost savings exceed the PACE payments, creating a cash-flow-positive project. By using C-PACE, building owners can reduce their operating costs, improve the value and competitiveness of their building, meet energy performance goals, and increase their cash flow.

Repayment is facilitated through the County property tax assessment process. A voluntary assessment (similar to a sewer district assessment) is placed on the building owner’s property tax bill. The assessment is repaid over the financing term (up to 20 years) and the annual energy cost savings will, in most cases, exceed the annual assessment payment. As a result such projects are typically cash flow positive in the first year. Because the C-PACE assessment obligation runs with the property, the assessment automatically transfers to the next owner when the property is sold.

Who administers Colorado C-PACE?

The statewide Colorado C-PACE program was launched by Colorado’s New Energy Improvement District (NEID), which was created by the Colorado Legislature in 2014. In 2015 NEID, through a competitive bidding process, selected Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Inc. (SRS) to be the Colorado C-PACE program administrator.

What counties participate in Colorado C-PACE program?

Visit the Participating Counties page of this website for a current list of counties that participate in the Colorado C-PACE program. The program administrator can accept Pre-Qualification Submission Forms ONLY from owners with properties located in a county that has opted into the Colorado C-PACE program. If you have questions about getting any county to join Colorado C-PACE, email info@copace.com.

Does a contractor need any special licensing or certification?

All contractors should be in compliance with Colorado State and local license requirements. In addition, attendance at one of the recurring Colorado C-PACE contractor training workshops is required to become a Colorado C-PACE registered contractor. There is no charge for attending these sessions. Visit the Events page for a calendar of scheduled workshops.

How do I get started?

Colorado C-PACE provides regularly scheduled free training workshops for contractors. Visit the Events page for the upcoming schedule or email info@copace.com.

How does the process work?

Colorado C-PACE process involves multiple steps that include:

  • Contractor training
  • Building selection and prequalification
  • Preliminary project scoping
  • Proposal preparation and review with the owner
  • Project scenario development and optimization
  • Project technical review
  • Financing
  • Construction
  • Commissioning

For more information see the Process Flow Diagrams in the Colorado C-PACE Program Guidelines.

How long does it take to prepare a project for submission?

It depends on the complexity of the project. Single ECMs take just a few days. Complex projects that require audits and/or detailed engineering can take 6 to 8 weeks.

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How long does it take to get a project financed after an Pre-Qualification Submission Form is submitted?

Timeframes are project-specific and depend on the number of parties involved. In a C-PACE project, the contractor, mortgage holder, and capital provider establish their own schedules with the building owner. Once a project has been approved for financing, it typically takes an average of 60 days to close.

Is the construction contract between the Contractor and the Owner?

Yes.

When does a contractor get compensated?

After a project has been reviewed by the program administrator and approved by the building owner and mortgage holder (if any), participating capital providers are offered the opportunity to finance the project. The capital provider (selected by the owner) will review the project documentation (provided by the program administrator and the owner), prepare a financing agreement, and schedule a closing. Funds to initiate construction will be disbursed as provided in the financing agreement funds disbursement schedule.

What is the Savings-to-Investment Ratio (SIR)?

The SIR tells all stakeholders whether a project will be cash-flow-positive. It is calculated by dividing the projected energy cost savings over the finance term by the total installed cost of the project, including the cost of equipment, installation, and financing.

While the Colorado C-PACE Statute does not require any SIR criteria, the program strongly encourages projects with an SIR>1 for the following reasons:

  • Mortgage holders will be more likely to provide consent for projects that show positive cash flow
  • Capital providers will look favorably on projects that show positive cash flow
  • In general, the higher the SIR, the greater the demonstrated environmental benefits of the project, helping to promote the goals for the Colorado C-PACE program set forth in the C-PACE Statute.
How are the energy savings calculated for solar-only projects?

A solar PV feasibility study must be prepared for any project that includes a solar PV installation. For multi-ECM projects, the contractor providing the non-solar ECMs should refer to the Audit Requirements section of the Colorado C-PACE Program Guidelines. The methodology used for the savings projections are determined during the project development stage. In most cases, an ASHRAE Level I will suffice. For single ECMs such as a boiler replacement, the required documentation can be less comprehensive; however, it should facilitate an SIR calculation.

As is the case for all new and innovative programs, we anticipate a learning curve. Therefore, the program administrator will provide tools and support services to streamline the project submission, review and approval process. Regardless of the feasibility study and/or audit level, energy use data collection should comply with the ASTM E2797-15 Building Energy Performance Assessment (BEPA) Standard.

How many years of utility data do I need to establish the energy use baseline?

Three years of utility data is preferred with a minimum of one year, during which time no major renovations should have taken place.  For more information, email info@copace.com.

Can roof repair or structural work be financed?

Yes. These costs are added to the costs of the solar installation and will reduce the SIR.

Do the projected energy savings need to be normalized for weather conditions?

Yes. Since the energy savings are projected and future weather conditions are unknown, energy savings are projected using average conditions. These projections create baselines for the status quo (which assumes ECMs have not been installed) and for the projected case (which assumes the recommended ECMs have been installed).

For roof-mounted systems, what is required to confirm a roof will handle the additional load?

All roof-mounted systems require an assessment and sign-off by a roofing contractor and a structural engineer. For more information refer to the Solar Feasibility. Refer to the Colorado C-PACE Program Guidelines for more information or email info@copace.com.

Can I include demand savings?

Yes, but these savings must be directly related to the projected solar energy production.

Can electricity/fuel-cost escalation factors be used that are higher than the published default factors?

While the default electricity/fuel-cost escalation factors, which are based on industry best practice, should be used, the program administrator will consider higher factors if the contractor submits the rationale for, and the calculations used, to arrive at a different cost escalation factor.

Can performance degradation factors be used that are lower than the published default factors?

Yes, although the default system performance degradation factor, which is based on industry best practice, should be used. To use a lower factor, the contractor must submit a rationale for, and the calculations used, to arrive at a different performance degradation factor.

Do I need a Letter of Agreement from the utility to take credit for a utility incentive?

Yes.

Who determines the value MACRS?

The value of the MACRS needs to be provided by the prospective owner or his/her accountant.

Can the solar investment tax credit (ITC) include the roof upgrade?

No.

Will a project with an SIR<1 receive financing?

Yes, but there are hurdles. First, the owner would have to agree to a proposal that is not cash-flow positive. Next, the mortgage holder will have to consent. This should be discussed early in the process to minimize the chance that a project will fail after it has been developed.

What can be done to increase a preliminary SIR that is less than 1.0?

There are many factors that can be adjusted, including cost, anticipated energy production, the potential use of tax credits, MACRS depreciation, and utility incentives. In addition, an owner can directly invest in a project to reduce the financed amount and thereby increase the SIR. The program administrator can model different scenarios to find one that will appeal to the owner and the mortgage holder.

How do I deal with the inverter warranty over the finance term?

The cost of the inverter (extended) warranty should be included in the cost of the project.

Can I use a different solar PV electricity production model than PVWatts?

Yes. For more information, refer to the Solar Feasibility Study section in the Colorado C-PACE Program Guidelines or email info@copace.com.

Can the program administrator help me prepare a Pre-Qualification Submission Form?

Yes, the program administrator can and will assist in the preparation of a Pre-Qualification Submission Form, if needed.

Will the program administrator attend meetings with the building owner?

Yes. The program administrator routinely attends meetings with building owners and their contractors to support the program and respond to C-PACE related questions.

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Can I use the ITC and MACRS even if I have a utility incentive?

Yes.

What do you consider a reasonable de-rate factor for the Solar PV model?

0.5%.  A proposed de-rate factor that is less than 0.05% must be supported by data from the system’s manufacturer. In consultation with the solar contractor, any such proposal will be reviewed and either approved, modified or rejected by the program administrator.

What should the commissioning plan include?

The system commissioning plan is intended to confirm the proposed ECMs have been installed according to manufacturers’ guidelines and that the system will perform as expected.  Contractors are required to prepare a Commissioning Report and submit it to the owner and the program administrator. It should include as-built drawings, O&M manuals for each ECM, and a narrative that is appropriate for the size and complexity of the project.

Can Colorado C-PACE finance a battery energy storage system with the Solar PV system?

Yes.

Why does the Colorado C-PACE program require the submission of solar system components cut-sheets?

The program administrator relies on cut-sheet data, which is combined with other project data included in the solar feasibility study, to confirm a project’s eligibility.

What is the program administration fee that will be added to each project?

Colorado C-PACE is designed to be a self-sustaining program once a certain level of deal-flow is achieved. The Colorado Energy Office has a limited budget to ensure that the program can cover its start-up costs.

To ensure that the program fees charged to program applicants are sufficient to cover the operating costs associated with administering the program, while still allowing for attractive overall costs associated with Colorado C-PACE participation, a fee equal to 2.5% of the project finance amount (not to exceed $75,000 per project) will be assigned to each C-PACE project. In addition, to cover the County tax assessors support services, the County will levy a C-PACE assessment servicing fee of up to 1% of the PACE assessment amount.

Energy Efficiency Contractors FAQs

What is Colorado C-PACE?

Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) is a program that helps building owners access private-sector financing to upgrade their building with energy efficiency, clean energy, and water efficiency improvements. With C-PACE, building owners receive up to 100 percent financing with attractive repayment terms consistent with the useful life of the improvements (up to 20 years). This typically enables them to undertake larger building modernization projects that addresses multiple deficiencies.

In well-designed C-PACE projects, the energy cost savings exceed the PACE payments, creating a cash-flow-positive project. By using C-PACE, building owners can reduce their operating costs, improve the value and competitiveness of their building, meet energy performance goals, and increase their cash flow.

Repayment is facilitated through the County property tax assessment process. A voluntary assessment (similar to a sewer district assessment) is placed on the building owner’s property tax bill. The assessment is repaid over the financing term (up to 20 years) and the annual energy cost savings will, in most cases, exceed the annual assessment payment. As a result such projects are typically cash flow positive in the first year. Because the C-PACE assessment obligation runs with the property, the assessment automatically transfers to the next owner when the property is sold.

Who administers Colorado C-PACE?

The statewide Colorado C-PACE program was launched by Colorado’s New Energy Improvement District (NEID), which was created by the Colorado Legislature in 2014. In 2015 NEID, through a competitive bidding process, selected Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Inc. (SRS) to be the Colorado C-PACE program administrator.

What counties participate in Colorado C-PACE program?

Visit the Participating Counties page of this website for a current list of counties that participate in the Colorado C-PACE program. The program administrator can accept Pre-Qualification Submission Forms ONLY from owners with properties located in a county that has opted into the Colorado C-PACE program. If you have questions about getting any county to join Colorado C-PACE, email info@copace.com.

Does a contractor need any special licensing or certification?

All contractors should be in compliance with Colorado State and local license requirements. In addition, attendance at one of the recurring Colorado C-PACE contractor training workshops is required to become a Colorado C-PACE registered contractor. There is no charge for attending these sessions. Visit the Events page for a calendar of scheduled workshops.

How do I get started?

Colorado C-PACE provides regularly scheduled free training workshops for contractors. Visit the Events page for the upcoming schedule or email info@copace.com.

How does the process work?

Colorado C-PACE process involves multiple steps that include:

  • Contractor training
  • Building selection and prequalification
  • Preliminary project scoping
  • Proposal preparation and review with the owner
  • Project scenario development and optimization
  • Project technical review
  • Financing
  • Construction
  • Commissioning

For more information see the Process Flow Diagrams in the Colorado C-PACE Program Guidelines.

How long does it take to prepare a project for submission?

It depends on the complexity of the project. Single ECMs take just a few days. Complex projects that require audits and/or detailed engineering can take 6 to 8 weeks.

.

How long does it take to get a project financed after an Pre-Qualification Submission Form is submitted?

Timeframes are project-specific and depend on the number of parties involved. In a C-PACE project, the contractor, mortgage holder, and capital provider establish their own schedules with the building owner. Once a project has been approved for financing, it typically takes an average of 60 days to close.

Is the construction contract between the Contractor and the Owner?

Yes.

When does a contractor get compensated?

After a project has been reviewed by the program administrator and approved by the building owner and mortgage holder (if any), participating capital providers are offered the opportunity to finance the project. The capital provider (selected by the owner) will review the project documentation (provided by the program administrator and the owner), prepare a financing agreement, and schedule a closing. Funds to initiate construction will be disbursed as provided in the financing agreement funds disbursement schedule.

What is the Savings-to-Investment Ratio (SIR)?

The SIR tells all stakeholders whether a project will be cash-flow-positive. It is calculated by dividing the projected energy cost savings over the finance term by the total installed cost of the project, including the cost of equipment, installation, and financing.

While the Colorado C-PACE Statute does not require any SIR criteria, the program strongly encourages projects with an SIR>1 for the following reasons:

  • Mortgage holders will be more likely to provide consent for projects that show positive cash flow
  • Capital providers will look favorably on projects that show positive cash flow
  • In general, the higher the SIR, the greater the demonstrated environmental benefits of the project, helping to promote the goals for the Colorado C-PACE program set forth in the C-PACE Statute.
How are the energy savings calculated for proposed ECMs?

The methodology for the savings projections is determined during the project development stage. In most cases, an ASHRAE Level I or II Audit will suffice. For single ECMs, such as a boiler replacement, the required documentation can be less comprehensive; however, it should facilitate an SIR calculation. For more information, refer to the C-PACE Program Guide.

As is the case for all new programs, a learning curve is expected. Therefore, the program administrator will provide tools and support to streamline the project submission, review and approval process. Regardless of the audit level, energy use data collection should comply with the ASTM E2797-15 Building Energy Performance Assessment (BEPA) Standard. Refer to Audit Requirements section of the Colorado C-PACE Program Guidelines.

What ECM’s are eligible for Colorado C-PACE financing?

The following list of typical, proven energy efficiency technologies is intended as a reference. The program administrator will review other proposed ECM(s) on a case-by-case basis.

  • Energy efficiency
    • Automated building controls (BMS, EMS)
    • Boilers, chillers and furnaces
    • Building envelope (insulation, glazing, windows, etc.)
    • High efficiency lighting
    • Hot water heating systems
    • HVAC upgrades
    • Roof replacement
    • Variable speed drives on motors, pumps and fans.
  • Renewable energy
    • Combined heat and power (CHP) systems
    • Fuel cells
    • Geothermal systems
    • Hydroelectric systems
    • Small wind systems
    • Solar PV
    • Solar thermal.
  • Water conservation
    • Irrigation systems
    • Low-flow fixtures (faucets, toilets, etc.).
  • Other eligible expenses
    • Commissioning costs
    • Construction costs related to an eligible improvement
    • Energy audit costs
    • Engineering and design expenses
    • Measurement & verification costs
    • Permit fees
    • Renewable energy feasibility study costs.

This list is not comprehensive. Any improvements that result in utility cost savings and meet other program criteria, will be considered under Colorado C-PACE.  See the C-PACE Program Guide, Section 2.B. Eligible Projects, for more information.

How do I estimate the baseline energy use for a building that is partially vacant?

This scenario requires modeling. For specifics, email info@copace.com.

How many years of utility data do I need to establish the energy use baseline?

Three years of utility data is preferred with a minimum of one year, during which time no major renovations should have taken place.  For more information, email info@copace.com.

Can a non-energy-saving measure be financed?

Yes, provided it is related to a specific ECM. For instance, a roof or structural repair needed to support a solar system would be eligible. However the costs for such work will be added to the costs of the solar installation and these additional costs will reduce the SIR.

What building simulation model should I use to determine the energy savings in a multi-ECM project?

The most common include DOE’s eQuest and EnergyPro, although other models such as Trane’s Trace 700 and Carrier’s HAP model are also acceptable.

Do the projected energy savings need to be normalized for weather conditions?

Yes. Since the energy savings are projected and future weather conditions are unknown, energy savings are projected using average conditions. These projections create baselines for the status quo (which assumes ECMs have not been installed) and for the projected case (which assumes the recommended ECMs have been installed).

Should the energy savings be evaluated over the estimated system lifetime rather than just over the finance term?

Energy savings are calculated over the expected useful life of the specific ECM. In projects that incorporate multiple ECMs, the weighted useful life of the multiple ECMs is calculated and used to determine the maximum allowable finance term.

Can electricity/fuel-cost escalation factors be used that are higher than the published default factors?

While the default electricity/fuel-cost escalation factors, which are based on industry best practice, should be used, the program administrator will consider higher factors if the contractor submits the rationale for, and the calculations used, to arrive at a different cost escalation factor.

Can performance degradation factors be used that are lower than the published default factors?

Yes, although the default system performance degradation factor, which is based on industry best practice, should be used. To use a lower factor, the contractor must submit a rationale for, and the calculations used, to arrive at a different performance degradation factor.

Will a project with an SIR<1 receive financing?

Yes, but there are hurdles. First, the owner would have to agree to a proposal that is not cash-flow positive. Next, the mortgage holder will have to consent. This should be discussed early in the process to minimize the chance that a project will fail after it has been developed.

What can be done to increase a preliminary SIR that is less than 1.0?

There are many factors that can be adjusted, including cost, anticipated energy production, the potential use of tax credits, MACRS depreciation, and utility incentives. In addition, an owner can directly invest in a project to reduce the financed amount and thereby increase the SIR. The program administrator can model different scenarios to find one that will appeal to the owner and the mortgage holder.

Why does the Colorado C-PACE program require the submission of ECM cut-sheets?

Cut sheets provide a wealth of data from the manufacturer of the ECM.  This data, when combined with other project data, is used by the program administrator to confirm project eligibility.

Can the program administrator help me prepare a Pre-Qualification Submission Form?

Yes, the program administrator can and will assist in the preparation of a Pre-Qualification Submission Form, if needed.

Will the program administrator attend meetings with the building owner?

Yes. The program administrator routinely attends meetings with building owners and their contractors to support the program and respond to C-PACE related questions.

.

What should the commissioning plan include?

The system commissioning plan is intended to confirm the proposed ECMs have been installed according to manufacturers’ guidelines and that the system will perform as expected.  Contractors are required to prepare a Commissioning Report and submit it to the owner and the program administrator. It should include as-built drawings, O&M manuals for each ECM, and a narrative that is appropriate for the size and complexity of the project.

What is the program administration fee that will be added to each project?

Colorado C-PACE is designed to be a self-sustaining program once a certain level of deal-flow is achieved. The Colorado Energy Office has a limited budget to ensure that the program can cover its start-up costs.

To ensure that the program fees charged to program applicants are sufficient to cover the operating costs associated with administering the program, while still allowing for attractive overall costs associated with Colorado C-PACE participation, a fee equal to 2.5% of the project finance amount (not to exceed $75,000 per project) will be assigned to each C-PACE project. In addition, to cover the County tax assessors support services, the County will levy a C-PACE assessment servicing fee of up to 1% of the PACE assessment amount.

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