ASTI Newsletter | April 2014 Edition | By Rachel Liesching
Among the Solar Roadmap action areas, one of the easiest ways for communities to promote solar market development is by generating consumer awareness, whether through promoting enabling financing options or publicizing solar educational materials. Local communities, both large and small, are at the center of the American Solar Transformation Initiative.
The Solar Roadmap team is dedicated to providing effective outreach and educational tools to local governments and community leaders that in turn empower constituents to leverage the benefits of solar market development. Here, we present a sampling of resources related to marketing PACE financing programs; similar strategies may be employed for other solar outreach efforts, including publicizing green loan programs.
Local governments: publicizing a PACE program in your community
Approximately 28 Solar Roadmap participants offer Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades—primarily for the commercial sector—and many are in the process of enabling such programs at the county and municipal level. Until 2009, all but two states lacked PACE-authorizing legislation, and as a result of the programs’ relative newness, many property owners are largely unaware of PACE financing programs.
PACE advocates across a range of sectors have recognized that marketing and outreaching are essential to a program’s success. In response, they have compiled customizable marketing materials and toolkits to assist jurisdictions with outreach, several of which are profiled below.
- Clean Energy Finance Guide for Residential and Commercial Building Improvements: this Department of Energy-produced comprehensive PACE implementation guide also features an attached package of marketing material templates, including a launch press release and a basic program overview brochure. The guide emphasizes consumer education, stating that marketing efforts should be rolled out with as much detail as possible regarding the estimated costs and savings of clean energy upgrades. Likewise, marketing efforts should educate commercial property owners on energy-related benefits of PACE, such as saving money and reducing emissions, as well as non-energy benefits related to occupant health and comfort.
- PACENow Resources: PACENow’s extensive collection of PACE resources includes communications materials, such as an informational one-pager that can be modified and distributed at local government counters and events, as well as sample program handbooks. Also featured is the DOE’s Social Media Toolkit, which contains suggested language for social media campaigns; these campaigns can be initiated by a local government and supported by local advocates for economic development and clean energy. A PACE issue brief, prepared by the Institute for Building Efficiency, identifies additional critical marketing strategies employed by four surveyed programs, including outreach to contractors, partnerships with professional groups and local economic development organizations, and targeted mailings (see page 19).
- PACE In a Box: the “PACE In a Box” toolkit is the brainchild of KPT (Keeping PACE in Texas), and while the toolkit was developed for local governments in Texas, its content is valuable for other municipalities as well. Included in its outline of PACE implementation steps is a marketing plan (see page 31) that lists a range of suggested strategies.
Though some PACE programs are supported by municipally issued bonds, many more programs are supported by third-party financial institutions; we suggest that you check with your local PACE providers for information regarding marketing support.
As with many objectives on the Solar Roadmap, facilitating online access to information for constituents is an especially important goal. For many jurisdictions, PACE programs are one component of a much greater integrated solar market development strategy; as such, jurisdictions like San Francisco and Chula Vista have created pages describing solar financing options on their municipal websites. Most importantly, online information portals can establish a clear overview for the process of going solar from start to finish by displaying evaluation tools, permitting information, and financing options all in one place.
For additional information and resources about marketing PACE programs and other solar financing options, contact the Solar Roadmap team at ASTI@SolarRoadmap.com.