Florida County Moves Forward with Commercial PACE

Recent news regarding PACE shows up a wide divergence of local views regarding such issues as “open-market” vs. exclusive-provider approaches, the inclusion of residential properties, and so on. Here’s one recent example:

November 5, 2013: Pinellas County moves forward on PACE

CLEARWATER, FL – Owners of commercial property may soon be able to take advantage of a new financing program to make certain types of improvements…

According to a staff report, the PACE program “is intended to stimulate economic activity in a variety of sectors, including alternative energy, energy conservation, building materials and associated products.”

A motion to include residential property in the program was defeated… Commissioners John Morroni and Roche objected to including residential properties in the program. They have concerns that the program may do harm than good to the real estate market…

Commissioner Janet Long spoke in favor of an open market instead of picking one vendor to run the PACE program. However, other commissioners believe it would be less confusing to the public to have one vendor – at least in the beginning. All did agree with Long that a free market could create a more competitive environment and lower interest rates….

County Administrator Bob LaSala said staff would ensure that the vendor understood it was responsible for making sure its clients knew that PACE was not a county program.

Latvala and Justice said the program could be a benefit to the real estate market by allowing people to make improvements to the safety of their homes. In addition, the state legislature is reportedly considering an amendment to the program that could assist people needing to make improvements to lower their flood insurance rates.

In the end, commissioners approved staff’s ranking of firms and directed staff to negotiate a contract with the No. 1 ranked firm Ygrene Energy Fund Florida to provide a PACE program for a countywide program for commercial properties only. The commission also asked that the contract include a mechanism for a periodic review.

Read the full story…

A related story, in the Tampa Bay Times on November 12, notes that Commissioner Charlie Justice tried in vain to persuade his fellow commissioners to extend the program to homeowners. “For people who are underwater, this is the only way to improve their homes,” he said at a recent meeting. Only Susan Latvala sided with him.

Read the full story…

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