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

How do I get started?

C-PACE provides regularly scheduled training workshops for contractors free of charge. Visit the Events page for the schedule of upcoming workshops or email Reno@PACEworx.com. You can also work with a property owner to submit a project application for consideration.

How does the process work?

C-PACE involves multiple steps that include:

  • Building selection and prequalification
  • Project application
  • Preliminary project scoping
  • Proposal preparation and owner review
  • Project scenario development and optimization
  • Project technical review
  • Financing
  • Construction
  • Commissioning
How long does it take to get a project financed after an application 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 property 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 property 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 property 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. Under the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 271 and Reno Resolutions 8661 and 8662, C-PACE projects must be designed such that the estimated energy cost savings, over the effective useful life of the qualified energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy improvements, exceeds the financing amount, i.e. the savings-to-investment ratio (SIR) is greater than one (SIR >1.0). There are significant benefits to this requirement:

  • Property owners and capital providers look favorably on projects that show positive cash flow over their lifetime
  • Mortgage holders are more likely to consent to the imposition of a voluntary benefit assessment for projects that show positive cash flow
  • In general, the higher the SIR, the greater the demonstrated environmental benefits, e.g., emissions reductions, of the project, which helps to support the goals of C-PACE.
How are the energy savings calculated for solar-only projects?

As defined in the C-PACE program guidelines, solar photovoltaic (PV) projects must be determined to be feasible through a written feasibility study conducted by a registered contractor. For further information, refer to the Audit Recommendations section of the Program Guide.

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. This best practice is consistent with the requirements of ASTM International Standard E2797: Standard Practice for Building Energy Performance Assessment for a Building Involved in a Real Estate Transaction. For more information, contact us.

Can roof repair or structural work be financed?

Yes, if the work is related to the installation of eligible improvements. For example, if roof repair is required in order to install a rooftop solar PV system.

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 energy conservation measures (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. Refer to the Program Guide or contact us.

Can demand savings be included?

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 to have 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 is provided by the prospective property owner or his/her accountant.

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

No.

Will a project with a SIR<1 receive financing?

No. Under the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 271 and Reno Resolutions 8661 and 8662, C-PACE projects must be designed such that the estimated energy cost savings, over the effective useful life of the qualified energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy improvements, exceeds the financing amount, i.e. the savings-to-investment ratio (SIR) is greater than one (SIR >1.0).

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 Program Guide or contact us.

Can the program administrator help me prepare an application?

Yes, the program administrator can and will assist in the preparation of an application, if needed.

Will the program administrator support an introduction of C-PACE to a property owner?

Yes. The program administrator is available to collaborate with the contractor to develop an agenda for a property owner introductory call, identify issues that can be expected to arise, and determine which issues are best handled by the contractor or the program administrator.

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 percent. A proposed de-rate factor that is less than 0.5 percent 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 that the proposed ECMs have been installed according to the manufacturers’ guidelines and that the system will perform as expected. Contractors are encouraged to prepare a commissioning report and submit it to the property owner and the program administrator. It should include as-built drawings, O&M manuals for each ECM, and a narrative appropriate for the size and complexity of the project.

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

Yes.

What can be done to increase a 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, a property owner can directly invest in a project to reduce the financed amount and thereby increase the SIR. The program administrator may be able to model different scenarios to find one that will appeal to the property owner and the mortgage holder.

Why does the 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.

Energy Efficiency Contractors FAQs

How do I get started?

C-PACE provides regularly scheduled training workshops for contractors free of charge. Visit the Events page for the schedule of upcoming workshops or email Reno@PACEworx.com. You can also work with a property owner to submit a project application for consideration.

How does the process work?

C-PACE involves multiple steps that include:

  • Building selection and prequalification
  • Project application
  • Preliminary project scoping
  • Proposal preparation and owner review
  • Project scenario development and optimization
  • Project technical review
  • Financing
  • Construction
  • Commissioning
How long does it take to get a project financed after an application 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 property 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 property 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 property 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. Under the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 271 and Reno Resolutions 8661 and 8662, C-PACE projects must be designed such that the estimated energy cost savings, over the effective useful life of the qualified energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy improvements, exceeds the financing amount, i.e. the savings-to-investment ratio (SIR) is greater than one (SIR >1.0). There are significant benefits to this requirement:

  • Property owners and capital providers look favorably on projects that show positive cash flow over their lifetime
  • Mortgage holders are more likely to consent to the imposition of a voluntary benefit assessment for projects that show positive cash flow
  • In general, the higher the SIR, the greater the demonstrated environmental benefits, e.g., emissions reductions, of the project, which helps to support the goals of C-PACE.
How are the energy savings calculated for proposed energy conservation measures (ECMs)?

As defined in the C-PACE program guidelines, energy efficiency projects must include a formal evaluation of the energy consumption baseline and projected savings that is consistent with the (i) requirements of ASTM International Standard E2797: Standard Practice for Building Energy Performance Assessment for a Building Involved in a Real Estate Transaction; (ii) the ASHRAE Level 2 or 3 guidelines for energy audits or any comparable energy assessment guidelines, as applicable.

The methodology for the savings projections is determined based on the complexity of the project. For example, in a single measure, like-for-like equipment replacement project such as a boiler replacement, the required documentation can be less comprehensive than for a multi-measure, comprehensive project that involves interactive effects. For more information, refer to the C-PACE Program Guide.

What ECMs are eligible for C-PACE financing?

Improvements that are eligible for C-PACE financing must be permanently affixed to the commercial or industrial property. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Automated building controls (such as BMS and EMS)
  • Boilers, chillers, and furnaces
  • Building envelope (such as insulation, glazing, windows)
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) systems
  • Fuel cells
  • Geothermal systems
  • High-efficiency lighting
  • Hot water systems
  • HVAC upgrades
  • Hydroelectric systems
  • Irrigation systems that improve water efficiency
  • Roof replacement that improves energy efficiency (such as reflective/cool roof, enhanced insulation)
  • Small wind systems
  • Solar PV (roof upgrade/replacement for rooftop systems is also eligible)
  • Solar thermal
  • Waste heat recovery technologies
  • Water efficient fixtures (such as low-flow faucets and toilets)

In addition, the cost of improvements that are directly related to the installation of eligible improvements may be included in the financing, e.g. roof upgrades to support a roof-mounted solar PV installation.

This list is not all-inclusive and is expected to change over time. If a proposed improvement or expense is not on this list, contact the program administrator with a description of the improvement or expense for consideration.

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

This scenario requires modeling. For specifics contact us.

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. This best practice is consistent with the requirements of ASTM International Standard E2797: Standard Practice for Building Energy Performance Assessment for a Building Involved in a Real Estate Transaction. For more information, contact us.

Can a non-energy-saving measure be financed?

Yes, provided it is related to the eligible improvement allowed under C-PACE. For instance, a roof or structural repair that is needed to support a solar system is eligible. The costs for such work will be added to the costs of the solar installation. These additional costs will reduce the savings-to-investment ratio (SIR).

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

The program administrator recommends DOE’s eQuest or 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 energy conservation measures (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 a specific energy conservation measure (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 a SIR<1 receive financing?

No. Under the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 271 and Reno Resolutions 8661 and 8662, C-PACE projects must be designed such that the estimated energy cost savings, over the effective useful life of the qualified energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy improvements, exceeds the financing amount, i.e. the savings-to-investment ratio (SIR) is greater than one (SIR >1.0).

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

There are many pieces to the puzzle, especially in projects with multiple ECMs. Some ECMs with a low SIR might be eliminated and/or owners can agree to directly invest in the project.

Why does the C-PACE 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 an application?

Yes, the program administrator can and will assist in the preparation of an application, if needed.

Will the program administrator support an introduction of C-PACE to a property owner?

Yes. The program administrator is available to collaborate with the contractor to develop an agenda for a property owner introductory call, identify issues that can be expected to arise, and determine which issues are best handled by the contractor or the program administrator.

What should the commissioning plan include?

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

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