News and Events

Florida Legislature Passes Energy Finance Program (PACE) Bill
New finance tool would set PACE for energy efficient refits

By Paul Brinkman
Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2010
South Florida Business Journal
Imagine being able to refit a home or business with new central air conditioning, efficient water heaters and hurricane-resistant windows.

The utility bill would certainly go down. But how would you pay for the front-end cost? And wouldn’t it be unfortunate if you had to move after all the trouble?

Proposed Florida legislation would allow a new method for funding energy-efficient improvements using a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bond.

PACE bonds, already used in California, would be issued only by municipalities that opted into the program. It would allow property owners to pay for certain improvements that are proven to lower utility costs. The front-end costs are paid back over time, through an assessment on a property’s tax bill.

If you move, the assessment stays with the property where the improvements are located; it doesn’t follow you.

The bill is being handled in the House of Representatives by state Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, the majority leader.

Hasner says he’s a fiscal conservative, but doesn’t see the PACE program as a conflict with those values, primarily because it would only affect people who voluntarily choose it.

“By helping consumers finance the upfront costs for energy improvements, we’ll be taking away the biggest burden for homeowners who want to make their homes more energy efficient and save money,” he said.

The bill is backed by a variety of green business interests, including Fort Lauderdale-based solar distributor Advanced Green Technologies.

According to Hasner’s staff, Miami-Dade and Broward counties have formally adopted resolutions supporting PACE, as have the cities of Sarasota and St. Petersburg.

According to the proposed legislation, many states require legislation to authorize local governments to adopt PACE programs. Solar energy advocacy group Vote Solar said there are proposals in more than 18 states for PACE-enabling legislation, and 16 states have PACE-enabling legislation already in place. But the Florida bill notes that nothing in current state law forbids PACE financing, which has led some municipalities to believe that they could enact a PACE program if they wanted to.

“We think PACE is a positive movement forward for removing barriers in Florida’s solar industry,” said Yann Brandt, VP of Advanced Green Technologies. “Rep. Hasner has been a great advocate for the sector with his leadership on the issue.”

THE DETAILS:

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bond
The PACE bond is a tool to finance energy-efficient improvements that are part of a commercial or residential building’s structure, such as windows or central air conditioning.

A new Florida bill envisions the property owner repaying the loan over 20 years via an annual assessment on the property tax bill, equal to one-20th of the loan, plus interest. If the original owner sells the property, the assessment remains on the property. PACE bonds can be issued by municipal financing districts or finance companies. A nonprofit group called PACE Now, www.pacenow.org, estimates the U.S. market could exceed $500 billion someday, and could dramatically accelerate the energy efficiency of America’s buildings

Read the Bill


http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2010/04/19/story10.html