PACE financing is expected to be in the spotlight next Legislative Session
Short for Property Assessed Clean Energy, PACE allows homeowners to borrow money for energy-efficient home improvements such as new windows or rooftop solar panels, including much-needed hurricane resiliency projects.
Unlike traditional financing, homeowners pay back the cost through assessments on their property tax bill.
Last week, freshman Republican Rep. Ardian Zika filed a bill that would put overreaching restrictions and layers of regulations on the financing vehicle.
Why? Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano has been fishing for a sponsor and the otherwise well-meaning freshman lawmaker took the bait, presumably because the more experienced legislators in the Pasco delegation gave it a hard pass.
According to Fasano, PACE financing has led many Pasco County residents to be unable to pay back what they borrowed come property tax time.
Zika and Fasano’s bill would add some strictures to the program, including a requirement that financing would be contingent on a borrower’s income rather than the home equity they’ve built up.
Based on a few isolated consumer and contractor issues, Fasano has decided to exaggerate to the point that PACE seems like an epidemic plaguing the state. Far from it.
But in his ever-populist style, the legislation he’s pushing for is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. HB 225 is a regulation-heavy bill seeking to provide a solution to a nonexistent problem. One wonders who he is really representing in this ill-timed and ill-advised legislation.
In reality, PACE allows homeowners to make needed improvements in a convenient way, all the while helping boost energy conservation.
Even better, the current Florida PACE financing program doesn’t cost to taxpayers a dime. It’s a no-mandate, consumer opt-in approach to help the Sunshine State go green.
It’s also good for the economy.
The program brings private capital to Florida in order to provide homeowners otherwise out-of-reach financing options for roofs, HVAC systems and hurricane protection improvements.
Nearly 200 local governments in Florida have already partnered with PACE programs to provide access to these low interest, fixed rate, long term financing for homeowners and businesses.
If Fasano gets his way, that option will be regulated to the point that it would be nearly unrecognizable.
If the bill passes, maybe the Pasco Tax Collector’s office will get a handful of checks from those who blame PACE for their inability to foot their tax bill.
But like all regulations, someone will pay the price.
In this case, the losers would be homeowners across the state and energy conservation advocates far and wide.