Who is VPA?
The Virginia PACE Authority (VPA) is a nonprofit organization that provides C-PACE program administration services for Virginia cities and counties. VPA is committed to implementing a low-cost, open market C-PACE program that incorporates industry best practices and promotes clean energy in the Commonwealth. As the program administrator, VPA works with commercial businesses, property owners, contractors and local governments to facilitate the financing of energy efficiency, renewable energy and resilient projects on both new and existing buildings.
View and download the Virginia PACE Authority brochure for more information.
Our mission is to educate, promote and facilitate clean energy and resilient solutions through the administration of C-PACE financing programs.
In the fall of 2017, Abacus Property Solutions (Abacus), a prominent PACE consultancy, formed a working group to discuss creating an open source, non-profit model of program administration that would provide Virginia jurisdictions a choice based on their specific needs. This working group consisted of representatives from two C-PACE lenders (Petros PACE Finance, John Marshall Bank), two project developers (Johnson ControIs Inc., Abacus), and two law firms (Hirschler Fleischer, Williams Mullen). Based on experience with and research on PACE Program Administration around the country, this group foresaw an alternative model based on the following core principles:
- Low fees to property owners
- Freedom of choice in selection of service providers
- Public-benefit orientation (non-profit status)
This group decided in 2018 to form the Virginia PACE Authority (VPA) to be the face of this effort to provide its alternative administration model to Virginia localities. In 2019, VPA applied for and was designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Over the last two years, VPA has become the leading PACE program administrator in the state as well as the organization that stakeholders trust for reliable, unbiased, and thoughtful counsel.
Abby Johnson, Executive Director
Abby is Executive Director and founder of VPA. Since 2012, Abby has specialized in PACE financing, advising commercial building owners, lenders and public sector clients in PACE project and program development including crafting of PACE legislation, creating program guidelines, and launching and administering PACE programs. She has been instrumental in developing PACE programs around the country in Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana, Oregon, North Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia. In Virginia, she was largely responsible for expanding PACE over the last five years to include resiliency, stormwater management, commercial condos, and retroactive projects. In 2019, she founded VPA to offer Virginia localities a low-cost, nonprofit option for program administration. Through Abby’s leadership, VPA has received multiple grants, including one that is funding the creation of a web-based platform that connects lenders with borrowers to fund resiliency and clean energy projects. In her capacity as an advisor, Abby works with building owners to develop “PACE-able” projects, structure PACE within the capital stack, and source senior debt as needed.
Nikia Fisher, Operations
Nikia heads Operations for VPA. She provides day to day management of VPA activities including managing personnel and partner relationships, overseeing CRM processes, supporting customer service requests, and providing outreach to property owners, lenders, contractors, and other service professionals. Nikia has extensive expertise in managing of personnel, developing and managing large scale operations, and working on real estate projects from application through closing. Nikia’s prior work experience includes positions as the Office Manager the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula, Transaction Coordinator for Rose and Wombie Realty and as a HR Assistant for APAC Customer Services.
Dan Lilie, Project Development
Dan provides project development support for VPA. Dan has worked on large-scale real estate development projects in several large urban centers. Recently, he has worked to activate public energy development programs for the CRE market and was among the first wave of Californians active in the commercial PACE program. Dan is a multi-faceted executive with a deep knowledge of real estate and energy finance, leasing, and asset management.
Joe Bianco, Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
Joe serves as CTO of VPA, responsible for outlining the company’s technological vision, implementing technology strategies, and ensuring that technological resources are aligned with the company’s business needs and goals. Joe has over 30 years of direct hands-on experience as a Systems Architect, Software Engineer, Systems Engineer, Department Manager and Instructor working for companies such as IBM, Lockheed Martin, Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding, mid-sized biotech and consulting companies, and non-profit organizations. Experience includes all phases of providing software solutions to government classified, commercial, and company internal customers, including business acquisition, requirements, analysis, design, development, verification, validation, documentation, configuration control, delivery, and training.
Ellen Dickson, Outreach and Marketing Support
Ellen provides outreach and marketing support for clients in the Northern Virginia region. She also assists with business development and strategy. Ellen has expertise in public affairs, government relations and economic development. Her prior work experience includes Manager for Public Affairs for Ford Motor Company and Director of Government Relations for the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce.
Isabel Hagaman, Marketing Support
Isabel provides marketing and social media support for VPA. Isabel is well versed on energy efficiency and renewable topics in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as PACE financing. She also assists in business development and general administrative tasks. She is also the new music director for New Kent County Elementary School.
Slipstream, a clean-energy focused nonprofit organization, works in partnership with VPA to provide program administration services including a proprietary C-PACE technology platform, application management support, and technical review. Slipstream’s role also includes assisting in the qualification of capital providers and contractors. Organization-wide, Slipstream partners with utilities, local and state governments, regulatory agencies, and other organizations to create, test, deliver and scale the next generation of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that move farther and faster towards a clean energy economy.
Cleanfinancing LLC, RISE Challenge Partner has provided C-PACE project financing options to $100 million worth of building improvements since 2014. Today they cover all 8 C-PACER Districts in California, and bring the attributes of 12 different national funders when supporting projects in development in any program area. Each program area and funder has its service and product strengths and program biases; CleanFinancing finds the best combination for the sponsor’s capital improvement needs. In addition, CleanFinancing has multiple resources of tax-equity capital, which allows us to structure financing for tax credit- benefiting projects where the owner does not have a tax-benefit appetite. For this Challenge, they will manage the development of the PACEfi platform into a web-based application through testing and launch through the VPA website.
Virginia Community Capital, RISE Challenge Partner empowers stakeholders of all types to invest capital locally to build prosperous, vibrant communities. For this Resilience Challenge, LOCUS will provide technical assistance around creative capital stacking, developing financial modeling and marketing tools, and act as a liaison with local and state governments. Opportunity Virginia is an initiative of LOCUS.
Ecovative Energy, Inc., RISE Challenge Partner is an applied building science consulting firm based in Norfolk. They provide exclusive technical knowledge with over 20 years combined experience of building applications as they relate to energy efficiency, durability and resiliency through an integrated “systems” approach to building science. For this Resilience Challenge, they will lead the Pilot Project(s) development as well as the development of the resiliency/flood measures eligible for C-PACE.
Board of Directors and Advisors
Board of Directors
- Abby Johnson (President): President, VPA
- William Nusbaum (Secretary): Partner, Williams Mullin law firm
- Paul Brooks (Treasurer): Account Executive, Johnson Controls, Inc.
- Genevieve Sherman: Managing Director, PACE Financial Services
- Von Gilbreath: Director, Greater Williamsburg Partnership
- Greg Montgomery: Managing Director, CleanSource Energy, LLC.
- Matt Harrington (Assistant Treasurer), Pipaya Partners LLC
- Carrie O’Malley, Hirschler Fleischer
- Bill Greenleaf, Virginia Community Capital
- Tom Nida, City First Bank