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SOURCE Thompson & Knight LLP
AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Thompson & Knight LLP has organized a statewide effort to enact legislation allowing property owners in Texas to finance water conservation and energy efficiency upgrades to existing buildings with long-term loans to be repaid through local taxing districts under voluntary property assessments.
The legislation, introduced in SB 385 and HB 1094, will update a 2009 Texas statute to fully authorize municipalities and counties to use property assessments as a conservation and economic development tool. The financing program, known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), creates a secure repayment structure so that private sector lenders can make loans to pay for the improvements at reasonable interest rates. In the last few years, PACE legislation has been adopted by 27 other states and a number of successful PACE loan programs are already underway.
SB 385 is sponsored by State Senator John Carona of Dallas, Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. HB 1094 is sponsored by State Representative James Keffer of Granbury, Chairman of the House Energy Committee. The goal of these bills is to overcome a number of barriers to investment in energy efficiency and water conservation.
"Some time ago we recognized the deficiencies in the current law, which does not provide sufficient authorization to implement PACE financing programs," says Steve Block, a Partner in the Houston office of Thompson & Knight. "We evaluated PACE statutes enacted in other states and used the best of them to craft legislation that will facilitate viable PACE financing programs in Texas."
As part of that effort, Thompson & Knight formed Keeping PACE in Texas, a non-profit association, to gain public awareness and business sponsorships. With the support of a full-time Executive Director and several Firm attorneys, the association has educated numerous companies, trade associations, and other organizations about the many benefits that can be derived from PACE programs.
"We're excited that SB 385 and HB 1094 have been introduced," says Jim Morriss, a Partner in Thompson & Knight's Austin office, "and we are optimistic regarding the passage of this legislation during this session. We also hope that our Firm's leadership on this issue has helped raise awareness of the fundamental importance of effective PACE programs in Texas."
More information about PACE and links to SB 385 and HB 1094 can be found at www.keepingpaceintexas.org.
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