PACE Small Business Equity Program

PACE values the contributions that small businesses make to our community. The diverse inventory, personalized services, unique experiences, and creative innovations that Boulder County’s small businesses provide, help make our community special. Small businesses also provide financial livelihoods for many community members and add to the diversity of Boulder County. Small businesses account for the largest portion of Boulder County’s commercial inventory. In the City of Boulder, 88% of employers have fewer than 20 employees.

As Boulder County bounces back from the pandemic, PACE Small Business Equity Program can speed up your economic recovery efforts.

PACE has created three special offerings to help Boulder County’s small businesses rebuild even better than before:

Through these grant offerings, your business could operate more efficiently, save money, contribute to sustainability goals, and become more resilient. We know how busy you are —PACE is here to help make your sustainability goals a reality.

Program Details and Eligibility

PACE incentives are awarded on a first come, first serve basis while funding is available. Applications for 2021 will be accepted through November 16, 2021 unless funds are depleted beforehand. Details on the Refrigeration and Restaurant Equipment Grant, the Outdated Lighting Grant, and the Solar Rebates and Grants can be found by clicking on the tabs below.

According to the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, food service and sales businesses are among the most energy cost burdened small businesses, consuming three times more electricity than the commercial average. This energy burden, coupled with high operational costs, can make it difficult to replace equipment. In the 2019 pilot of this program, PACE found equipment manufactured in the 1950s still in use! The PACE Refrigeration & Restaurant Equipment Grant helps small, locally owned restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, and caterers in Boulder County replace inefficient refrigeration and restaurant equipment with brand-new, energy-efficient models.

There are substantial benefits to upgrading equipment:

  • Lower energy bills
  • More reliable equipment
  • Less maintenance
  • Improved aesthetics
  • Improved workplace comfort
  • Safer food handling temperatures/decreased health risks
  • Reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions

While there are many benefits to replacing inefficient equipment, PACE understands there are also many barriers, including:

  • Cost
  • Selection of the correct equipment
  • Time involved in finding, vetting, and working with a vendor
  • Installation logistics
  • Removal and proper disposal of old equipment

Through the Refrigeration and Restaurant Equipment Grant, PACE helps remove these barriers to provide your business an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of new, efficient equipment while helping your business and the community reach their sustainability goals.

What is included in the grant? 

PACE negotiated discount pricing with Tundra Restaurant Supply, a local vendor, to equip eligible participants with ENERGY STAR certified restaurant and grocery equipment. The grant covers up to 70% of the costs upfront. Additionally, PACE covers up to 100% of costs associated with delivery and installation of new equipment as well as proper disposal of old equipment.

*Existing equipment must be manufactured in 2005 or earlier to qualify.

As part of the Refrigeration and Restaurant Equipment Grant, PACE will also assist your business identify opportunities for water conservation, waste reduction, and upgrading additional building equipment, including lighting.

What types of equipment are included in the grant?

Existing equipment must be manufactured in 2005 or earlier. Please let us know if your equipment is currently not working and we will do our best to prioritize your application. New equipment must be powered by electricity (not natural gas). The following equipment types are included in the grant:

If you have equipment that falls outside the above and you would like your project to be considered for the grant, please fill out the exception section of the interest form.

If your small business has T12 fluorescent lighting, you could qualify for a lighting grant to cover up to 50% of the costs of upgrading all interior lighting to LED. Please fill out the interest form and a PACE advisor will contact you.

  1. Eligibility: Review the PACE Small Business Equity Program eligibility checklist to determine if you qualify. If you do not qualify for the Small Business Equity Program, you likely still qualify for PACE rebates.
  2. Interest form: Complete and submit the interest form. If your equipment is failing at this time, please detail this information in your submission.
  3. Advisor Review: A PACE advisor will contact you to review your interest form and gather additional details needed for the grant.

Questions? Contact us at 303-786-7223 or

Funding is available for the installation of solar systems on commercial properties, including those owned or occupied by for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and multifamily housing. Restrictions apply.

Solar incentive table

*Each solar incentive (rebate or grant) is limited to 50% of the total project cost after utility incentives are applied. Eligible nonprofits may combine incentives up to 70% of the total project cost.

Organizations may be eligible for one or more of these solar incentives. Funding amounts are determined by organization type, property location, and system capacity. Awards are subject to pre-defined program limits and available on a first-come-first-served basis to eligible organizations while funding is available.


General requirements for solar incentives:

  • The applicant is the property owner. Applicants who lease their property will also be considered if they have a minimum 3-year lease term remaining and option to renew.
  • The property must be free from deed restrictions on PV systems.
  • Units must be installed within the bounds of the property premises.
  • North-facing roofs do not allow full utilization of sunlight and do not qualify.
  • There must be minimal shading by trees, buildings and other structures.
  • A list of eligible PV system modules and inverters is available on the California Energy Commission’s website.
  • All PV systems must carry a five-year warranty from both the manufacturer and the installer, including parts and labor.
  • Rebuilt, used, refurbished or portable equipment does not qualify.
  • New construction or major renovations qualify except if solar is required by code or if solar is being added to contribute to code compliance, even if the amount of solar is above code requirements. Exceptions may be considered for nonprofits on a limited basis.
  • A no-cost PACE assessment and review of a Zero Over Time Roadmap is required prior to all solar rebate reservations.
  • Properties located in the City of Boulder must be compliant with the Building Performance Ordinance, if applicable based on building size.

PACE Solar Rebate

PACE offers up to $15,000 to qualified for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and multifamily housing projects across Boulder County for appropriately sized photovoltaic systems.

Submit an interest form and a PACE Advisor will contact you about your project.

Nonprofit Solar Equity Grant

Boulder County nonprofits serving low-income populations are eligible for a $5,000 equity grant. Nonprofits must meet the following criteria:

  • The organization’s core mission serves low-income individuals and families OR the organization is a place of worship with low income services provided directly from the organization.
  • The organization is an IRS 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in good standing with the State of Colorado.
  • The organization is responsible for paying its energy bills.

Submit an interest form and a PACE Advisor will contact you about your project.

City of Boulder Nonprofit Solar Grant

City of Boulder only: Qualified site-based nonprofits located in the City of Boulder are eligible for up to $35,000 in additional project funding. Income-qualified housing that is owned and operated by a nonprofit in the City of Boulder is also eligible.

Submit an interest form and a PACE Advisor will contact you about your project.

City of Boulder Tax Rebate

City of Boulder residents and businesses that have installed solar electric or solar thermal (hot water) systems on their property may be eligible for a sales and use tax rebate. The city may rebate approximately 15 percent of the city sales and use tax paid on materials and permits for the solar installation. To be eligible, taxpayers must file a rebate application within 12 months of the city’s final inspection. The City of Boulder sales and use tax rebate does not impact eligibility for PACE’s solar rebate.


The PACE Small Business Equity Program is available to Boulder County business owners who meet each of the following criteria:

  • Owner lives in Colorado. Minority-owned businesses are highly encouraged to apply
  • Business is located in Boulder County
  • Business has been in operation for a minimum of two years
  • Owner manages and/or works day-to-day operations and makes long-term decisions
  • Business pays utility bill
  • Total operating square footage is 2,500 square feet or less

For the Refrigeration & Restaurant Equipment Grant, the following is also required:

  • Existing equipment must be manufactured in 2005 or earlier to qualify for a grant.
  • New equipment must be powered by electricity (not natural gas) to be eligible for grant. Conversion of natural gas-powered equipment to electric equipment can qualify. However, costs associated with electrical work will not be covered in grant.
  • Old equipment must be removed and properly disposed of by the disposal service provider. As part of the grant, this equipment will no longer be operated or owned by the business or any other entity.

If you do not meet all the above criteria and would like to be considered, please fill out and submit the interest form and include detailed information in the exception request section.

Grants are awarded on a first come, first served basis while funding is available. 

  1. Eligibility: Review the PACE Small Business Equity Program eligibility checklist to determine if you qualify to participate. If you do not qualify for the Small Business Equity Program, you likely still qualify for regular PACE rebates.
  2. Interest form: Complete and submit the interest form. If your equipment is failing at this time, please detail this information in the interest form.
  3. Assessment: A PACE advisor will review your application and may ask for a few additional details before scheduling an onsite assessment of your existing equipment.

Have questions? Contact us at 303-786-7223 or

After you fill in the interest form, you will be connected with a PACE advisor who will work with you through the following steps:

  1. Eligibility: A PACE advisor will reach out to you to verify that your existing equipment meets the eligibility requirements.
  2. Assessment: Your PACE advisor will meet you onsite to look at equipment and discuss replacement options.
  3. Quote: For the Refrigeration & Restaurant Equipment Grant, your PACE advisor will provide an equipment quote detailing the amount covered by the grant and the cost you would be responsible for. For the Outdated Lighting Upgrade Bonus you will work with a lighting contractor to get a quote—your advisor will support you through this process.
  4. Agreement: If you would like to move forward with replacing equipment, your PACE advisor will help you fill out and submit the agreement on DocuSign.
  5. Funds Awarded: PACE will review your submitted agreement and confirm that funding is available. You will receive an email notifying you that you have been awarded the funds.
  6. Payment: Once you’ve been awarded a grant, you will have 30 days from the award date to pay for your portion of the invoice. If you need more time, please inform your PACE advisor. By paying your portion, the equipment order will be placed. Payment instructions are located on the invoice. PACE’s grant, the remaining portion of the project costs, will go directly to the equipment provider/contractor on completion of the work.
  7. Delivery and Installation: An equipment provider/contractor will contact you to schedule the delivery and installation of your new equipment as well as the removal and proper disposal of your old equipment.
  8. Ownership & Maintenance: Once equipment has been installed, you own the new equipment and are responsible for ongoing maintenance.
  9. Follow Up: Your PACE advisor will follow up with you to see how the equipment is better serving you and your business.
  • Grant funding is capped at $20,000 per business annually.
  • The total of all incentives (PACE Restaurant and Grocery Equipment Grant, Financial Hardship Lighting Grant, utility rebates, etc.) cannot exceed 70% of total equipment costs unless authorized by PACE.
  • Grants cannot be combined with PACE rebates.

As part of the grant application process, the following forms will need to be completed. Your PACE advisor will support you through this process.

Beneficiary Agreement

Together with the City of Boulder, PACE launched a pilot program in 2019 for small, locally owned restaurant and grocery stores. Pilot participants helped PACE identify the biggest barriers to overcome- upfront cost and equipment logistics.

Through the pilot, PACE offered increased financial incentives in the form of an up-front grant, rather than a retroactive rebate as well as a streamlined process for delivering/installing new equipment and properly disposing of old, inefficient equipment.

Pilot participants are now enjoying the benefits of new, energy efficient equipment that is already proving to save money on their monthly utility bills. A win-win for businesses and the environment!

The pilot in the City of Boulder was a huge success and PACE is thrilled to offer the grant countywide!

Rincon Argentino has been operating in Boulder for ten years and participated in the 2019 pilot program.

“We are a small family run business. We try to be as environmentally friendly as possible, but sometimes the steps we want to take are cost prohibitive. We have been wanting to replace our old inefficient refrigerators … but the cost has made it difficult. This program made the upgrades we wanted to complete possible. The expertise and time (from PACE) are as helpful to us as the financial impact.”

Do you have other ideas that could help your business become more sustainable? Let us know how we can help!
Contact PACE at 303-786-7223 or