South / Regional Reports

Broward County Program to Finance Energy Efficiency Retrofits

Financing Is Available for Improvements Including HVAC, Solar Panels, and LED Lighting

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Broward County Commission unanimously voted to move forward with a new open market approach to financing for residential and commercial energy retrofits for its more than 1.8 million county residents.

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program adopted by the county lets property owners voluntarily and cost-effectively fund energy-saving retrofits of their homes and businesses. Financing is available for improvements including HVAC, solar panels, and LED lighting. Interest rates are competitive because repayment is collected as an assessment on the owners’ property tax bill.

“Contractors have been waiting a long time for this — we’re ready to get to work,” said Larry Clark of Sustainable Performance Solutions, a Broward-based energy auditor. “We applaud the commission for its leadership in unanimously moving Broward forward into a future full of good, green jobs.”

Broward’s vote signals a shift towards using multiple providers that compete to offer the best solutions to constituents — a shift away from programs that would limit participants to a single lender.

As part of this new, multiple-provider approach, the county decided to hire EcoCity Partners, which administers the state’s only statewide open market program. The Florida Green Energy Works initiative has been gaining momentum, expanding to its fifth Florida county.

“This is a game-changer for the community,” said Michael Wallander, principal with EcoCity Partners. “PACE provides a public good that should not be monopolized by one company; it should be used to create a competitive, open marketplace for innovative financing solutions.”

The program could lead to substantial investment in energy saving upgrades in the county. For instance, in just one year, Renovate America, a partner of the team led by EcoCity Partners, has approved over $300 million in residential PACE financing and funded nearly $100 million of energy retrofits in a community smaller than Broward.

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Publication date: 10/28/2013

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