Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing effectively allows property owners to borrow money to pay for energy improvements. The amount borrowed is typically repaid via a special assessment on the property over a period of years. Florida statutes authorize municipalities and counties to establish dependent special districts with the authority to collect revenue via a special assessment. (Not all local governments in Florida offer PACE financing; contact your local government to find out if it has established a PACE financing program.)
Florida PACE Programs
To be eligible for PACE financing, a local program at the city or county level must be available in your area. Jurisdictional eligibility rules vary by county and municipality; municipalities in an eligible county are not automatically eligible for PACE financing. Counties with PACE programs as of August 2014 included Flagler, Gadsden, Gulf, Indian River, Jefferson, Loen, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and St. Lucie.
Examples of active local PACE programs in Florida include:
- Flager County and the City of Kissimmee chartered the Florida PACE Funding Agency offer PACE financing to residential and commercial entities
- Leon County created the Leon Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)
- Miami-Dade County created the Voluntary Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program
- Town of Lantana and Town of Magnolia Park joined to incorporate the Florida Green Energy Works program, administered by the Florida Green Finance Authority. Since first formed by Lantana and Magnolia Park, the towns of West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Tequesta and Lake Worth have also joined the Florida Green Finance Authority.
- The communities of Cutler Bay, Miami, South Miami, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, and Miami Shores formed the Clean Energy Green Corridor District
- The Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF) Program based in St. Lucie offers a commercial PACE program.
Specific qualifying improvements are locally determined. The loans made to property owners are secured with a lien that is equal to county taxes and assessments. To participate in this program, property owners must have paid property taxes and not been delinquent for the previous three years. Additionally, the total assessment cannot be for an amount greater than 20% of the assessed value of the property. Local governments may pool together with other local governments to finance and administer programs.
Local governments were granted clear authority to create PACE financing programs with the passage of HB 7179 in May 2010. This legislation authorizes local governments - including counties, municipalities and dependent special districts - to levy non-ad valorem assessments to fund energy efficiency and conservation improvements, renewable energy improvements, and wind resistance improvements.
In addition to authority granted by HB 7179, existing Florida law authorizes municipalities and counties to create special districts for financing a variety of projects that serve the public purpose and benefit the municipality or county. Many special districts currently exist to finance public infrastructure and administer various programs that serve the public purpose and benefit property owners and the municipality or county. A municipality or county can create a dependent special district to administer a PACE program. The Special District Information Program of the Florida Department of Community Affairs has a handbook that summarizes how counties and municipalities may create a dependent special district.
In 2014 a suit was filed against the Leon County Energy Improvement District that was seeking to offer PACE financing. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in October 2015 that Leon County had the authority to issue a $200,000 bond in Case No. SC14-710.