No-money-down green upgrades paid via property taxes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – July 23, 2015 – Under the Florida Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, homeowners can pay for energy-efficient upgrades with no money down and relatively low interest rates, currently 6.5 to 7.5 percent. Homeowners then pay off the loan in installments as part of their personal property tax bill.

The Florida Legislature created the program in 2010 to help owners make the move to energy efficient products, such as solar energy, windows, doors, air-conditioning units or wind mitigation improvements, such as new roofs. The product must be attached to the house, so appliances don’t qualify.

To date, 13 counties have signed onto the program along with a number of cities.

In general, an energy-efficient upgrade can be paid off over its expected life, but the owner could opt for a shorter timeframe if preferred.

Since the loan is paid through a homeowner’s property tax bill, any remaining payments for the energy upgrade can be passed off to the next homebuyer, though a seller has the option to pay it off at the time of sale. Under the Florida PACE law, a seller must disclose the existence of any remaining debt, though a record of it will also appear in county tax records.

The program works for both residential homeowners and commercial projects, but some of the details, such as interest rates, vary.

“The program comes at no cost to local governments,” says Jonathan Schaefer, program manager for the Florida PACE Funding Agency. He says it can be adopted by either county or city governments.

While authorized by the Florida Legislature, the PACE program doesn’t rely on tax money. It’s funded and operated privately by agencies, such as the Orlando-based Florida PACE Funding Agency.

Florida PACE Funding Agency Contractor Kirk Francis told The Orlando Sentinel that he sees one big benefit to the program: “A lot of folks don’t have the money laying around to make these (energy upgrades). If it’s secured by the property, even people who don’t have strong credit can possibly qualify.”

For more information or see if a Florida county or city participates in the program, visit the consumer-facing PACE website.

Information for local governments about the program can be found at the Florida PACE Funding Agency website.

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