FAQ: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)

The Sarasota County Commission adopted an ordinance setting the framework for a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program on October 11, 2017, the first step in establishing a local program. Agreements still need to be signed with the PACE Local Governments, which is expected in the next few months. Once the program has been launched, workshops will be scheduled to explain the program to the community and answer questions. In the meantime, below are the answers to some of the questions you may have about the program.

If you would like to be added to an email list to receive updates on PACE or if you have questions or comments, please email sustainablesarasota@scgov.net or call 941-861-5000.

Frequently Asked Questions about PACE

What is PACE? Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a tool for property owners to voluntarily finance private property improvements related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and hurricane hardening through assessments levied on their property tax bill by special districts established for that purpose.

What is the status of PACE in Sarasota County? The Sarasota County Commission adopted an ordinance setting the framework for a PACE program on October 11th, but the program is not yet available locally. There are still a couple steps to be completed, including agreements with each of the providers and a resolution by the cities that would like to opt-in to our program. The goal is to have the program ready to launch in the beginning of 2018.

How can I learn more about PACE and stay informed about its launch? When the program is launched, a series of workshops will be scheduled to inform the community about financing options including PACE, eligibility requirements, and how they can participate. Those workshops will be announced by email and in a media release on the county’s website. If you would like to be added to an email list to receive updates on PACE or if you have questions or comments, please email sustainablesarasota@scgov.net or call 941-861-5000.

Once the program is launched, how would I participate? PACE financing will be facilitated by the contractors that would be doing the eligible work. It is recommended to get multiple quotes for proposed improvements and to ask them and financial institutions for information on all financing tools that would be available to you. PACE is just one of several financing options and PACE may or may not be the best option.

How can contractors participate in PACE? Contractors offering eligible improvements will need to be approved by the PACE providers to offer their financing. The PACE providers will train all contractors on the regulations related to the PACE program and on their Code of Conduct for participating contractors and will check licenses and insurance.

What property improvements are eligible for PACE financing? By Florida Statute, the only “Qualifying Improvements” eligible to be financed through a PACE assessment are energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, and wind-resistance improvements. Examples of such improvements include, but are not limited to: air sealing; insulation; energy-efficient heating, cooling, or ventilation systems; windows; electric vehicle charging equipment; efficient lighting; solar systems; roof deck attachment improvements; secondary water barriers; wind-resistant shingles; or storm shutters. The specific standards for these improvements will be outlined in “Eligible Measures Lists” which will be available from each PACE provider.

• How would I pay the PACE assessment? Just like any financing tool, the value of the PACE improvement would need to be paid back over time, along with any interest or fees charged by the PACE provider. The annual payment would be included as a non-ad valorem assessment on your property taxes each year. It is important to plan for that payment, since it would not be a monthly payment like most other home costs.

• Would the PACE assessment carry over to the next property owner when I sell? While that was originally anticipated as a primary benefit of the PACE tool, it is not always the case in reality. Research has shown that many mortgage companies will not finance properties with an existing PACE assessment and may require the assessment to be paid off when the property is sold or refinanced. A 2015 analysis in California showed that this had occurred in about half of sales that involved a PACE assessment and about 20% of refinances were affected.

What interest rates would PACE financing have? Initial indications are that the PACE providers offer interest rates between 6 and 9 percent. Actual interest rates may vary and estimates of interest rates and fees should be carefully compared with other financing options available.

Who will qualify for PACE financing? Eligible Participants are defined in the Florida Statute and in the Sarasota County ordinance and will be the responsibility of the PACE providers to verify. Among the considerations are: history of delinquencies or late payments on property taxes and mortgages, liens, as well as one of four of the following for residential property owners: financing limits, mortgage holder consent or escrow, insurance or energy savings, and debt limits.

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