A bill that would expand the list of home improvement projects eligible for PACE financing earned unanimous support in the Senate Community Affairs Committee.
SB 1208, sponsored by Doral Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, would add several improvement projects to the PACE list, including battery installations, asbestos mitigation and the replacement of lead pipes. The headliners, however, are septic-to-sewer conversions and flood mitigation projects.
PACE, short for property assessed clean energy, is a type of financing where homeowners pay back the cost of certain property upgrades through assessments on their property tax bill.
Currently, the program is geared toward energy efficiency upgrades, such as installing solar panels or new insulation.
Supporters say Rodriguez’s bill would help Floridians complete septic-to-sewer conversions more quickly, since the upgrade otherwise has a high upfront cost and grant funds to subsidize the conversions are mostly tapped out.
Research has shown that aging septic tanks and inadequate wastewater systems have been a major source of nitrogen fueling ecological disasters such as blue-green algae blooms. The more septic-to-sewer conversions, the thinking goes, the less pollution in state waterways.
Backers include local governments as well as the PACE industry. Ygrene Energy Fund, a major PACE provider, praised the Senate panel for advancing the bill Wednesday.
“Today’s unanimous and bipartisan vote marks an important step on the road to a more resilient and environmentally healthy Florida. Thank you to Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez for her tireless work in helping to ensure that millions can achieve the property upgrades they need to keep their families, investments, and the environment safe,” Ygrene CEO Jim Reinhart said.
“We look forward to continuing to support Senator Rodriguez and her colleagues in both the Florida House and Senate as SB 1208 and HB 387 makes their way through the committee process.”
SB 1208 now heads to Senate Finance and Tax Committee. The House companion, HB 387 by Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine, will go before the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee on Thursday.
In addition to expanding the scope of PACE, the bills also add a suite of consumer protections to help borrowers better understand loan terms and how PACE repayment works.