At the March 28 City Council meeting, the city will propose a Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which has already been adopted by 12 other cities and 14 other counties in Florida. The program allows for homeowners and business owners to voluntarily finance improvements to make their buildings energy efficient.

To do this, the city wants to partner with three separate and independent organizations who would handle the financing – the Florida Green Finance Authority, Green Corridor PACE and the Florida PACE Funding Agency.

The PACE program in Florida comes from FL Statute 163.08, which states that because energy efficiency benefits the welfare of the state and its inhabitants, financing improvements to property through the execution of financing agreements and the related imposition of voluntary assessments is “reasonable and necessary.”

The multiple companies Orlando residents would be able to finance with would allow for competition, according to Green Works Orlando Sustainability Manager Chris Castro.

Castro said he has spoken to many people who say they want to upgrade to more environmentally friendly practices – they just don’t have the money. The PACE project would fix that, he said.

“It’s a proven strategy to help finance improvements to property,” he said. “The one limiting factor is ‘where are we going to get the money?’”

Castro called the program “just an option,” comparing it to taking out a second mortgage or taking out a loan from the bank – just one more way to finance something needing to get done.

Castro said neighboring cities, such as Winter Park and Kissimmee, have already instituted the program. Orlando, he said, was waiting and seeing how it worked out in other areas before taking it on.

“We didn’t want to rush into it,” he said. “We looked at it for about three or four years and wanted to move forward without any concerns, liabilities or risk for the taxpayers.”

Jonathan Schaefer, program manager of the Florida PACE Funding Agency, said the PACE program allows for a multitude of new and diverse opportunities for those interested in going green.

“It can be used for those who don’t want to come cash out of pocket,” he said. “It can be used for seniors who don’t want to cash out their CD. Or commercial property owners may want to free up some of their capital budget money to do something else instead.”

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