Coral Springs to offer loan program for home energy upgrades

Residential and commercial property owners in Coral Springs will soon be able to use a program that will help them cost-effectively fund energy-efficient or wind-resistant improvements to their properties.

City officials approved extending the benefits of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program to property owners in the city. The program was approved by the state in 2010; Tamarac was the first city in the county to offer the program to its residents.

The program, which offers low-interest financing for wind mitigation, air conditioners, water heaters, pool pumps, solar panels and other energy-saving upgrades to property owners across the nation, is offered in Florida by the Florida PACE Funding Agency. The financing program is called Evest Florida.

Thirty-one states in the country have adopted the program. “Some of our residents have been sending us emails asking us about the program,” said Deputy City Manager Jennifer Bramley. “It is very popular in California.”

The money is repaid over a period of time as an assessment that is added to the property tax bill. “It is fixed rate, long term, and it is not based on credit scores,” said Jonathan Schaefer, Florida PACE Funding Agency program manager. “The program provides 100 percent financing at a fixed rate; there are no upfront costs.”

The term of the financing is up to 25 years, depending on the life of the project. The fixed interest rates range from 6 to 8 percent, depending on the project size and the term of the loan.

A property owner has to satisfy certain conditions to qualify for the loan. The owner should be current on mortgage payments and should not have missed or made late property tax payments over the last three years. There should be enough equity in the property to cover the cost of improvements. The minimum residential property value to qualify is $50,000; commercial properties should have a value of at least $250,000.

Of the 31 states that have approved PACE, Florida is the only one that provides funding for wind-mitigation improvements, said Jay Neal, president and CEO of Florida Association for Insurance Reform. “Over 80 percent of the PACE projects in the state have been wind mitigation projects,” he added.

Other cities in the region, too, are preparing to offer the program to property owners. One among them is Lauderhill; the city, which extended the program to commercial property owners in 2011, will soon pass an ordinance to give residential property owners the benefit of the program as well.

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