Any Medley residents or businessowners looking to make some improvements to their existing homes or businesses got a little help from the Medley town council at their monthly meeting last week.
Having first introduced, discussed and adopted the idea at a special June 18 workshop meeting, the PACE program was presented in the form of Resolution C-1148 and unanimously approved by a 4-0 vote at the July 1 meeting. (Councilwoman Susanna Guasch was absent due to a death in the family.)
PACE stands for Property Accessed Clean Energy Program, and for municipalities that participate in the program, there is a pool of millions of dollars in private funds that becomes available for any property owner, including business owners, where they can apply to access funds for clean energy projects with the goal of creating jobs in that municipality.
“Just a terrific program for not only the citizens of Medley but the businessowners as well and we wanted to do everything we could to make it available to them,” Medley mayor Roberto Martell said. “This program will not only serve to help them improve their own property values but also go a long way to hopefully help create new jobs as well.”
It wasn’t just about approving the plan but approving the company that will facilitate it as well. And that privilege will now go to Ygrene Energy Fund Company, which was awarded the contract. Three different companies were at the June 18 meeting to make their best sales pitch, but it was Ygrene which came out on top.
Under the program, there is zero cost to the city and zero cost to the taxpayers, but by participating in the PACE program, it makes those funds available for the property and business owners in the municipality.
Representing Ygrene at the July 1 meeting was a face familiar to many in Miami Springs.
Ralph Perez starred as a defensive lineman for the 1993 undefeated Miami Springs football team and got involved in politics five years ago when he unsuccessfully ran for a state representative seat against Erik Fressen. Last year, Perez jumped on board as district manager for Ygrene and he’s been busy selling the program to municipalities all over Miami-Dade and Broward County ever since.
“Just a terrific program that we feel will really benefit the Medley community and we’re glad the city has shown the confidence in us to do the job,” Perez said. “We have a coastal district already set up and now are in the process of establishing a new district.”
Ygrene offers funding for properties within the Clean Energy Green Corridor District and any owner whose property lies within that district can apply for financing.
Right now, the City of Miami, City of Cutler Bay, City of Palmetto Bay, City of Pinecrest and City of Miami Lakes, where Medley town attorney Michael Pizzi serves as mayor, are on board with the program and serve as part of a district. And, according to Perez, Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens are on the radar and will be approached soon.
“We definitely will be approaching both of those cities very soon with the same plan,” said Perez, who went on to play football at the University of Arizona after graduating from Springs. “The reasons for this program are many but the two most important ones are that nowadays banks simply are not handing out small home improvement loans and if you want to do something in the way of solar energy improvements, you have all of the upfront costs. The advantage of this program is that business owners or homeowners who might not be able to pass a credit check or get a commercial loan can access the money and the money will be paid as a separate line item in their property taxes.”
Perez said the going loan rate right now that Ygrene is providing is in most cases 6.95 percent. The loans can be paid off in any amount of years up to 20 years. If the property is sold or transferred while the loan is still pending, the tax payment obligation may be transferred with the property to the new owner.
It can’t be for just any kind of property improvement, either. The loan will only be made with the idea of energy conservation in mind.
Eligible improvements include the likes of air sealing and ventilation, weather-stripping, duct leakage and sealing, bathroom, ceiling, attic and whole-house fans, window filming, skylights and much more.
While Ygrene will work with all potential candidates, it won’t be like Christmas, either.
“Everyone needs to have equity in their property, be up to date and current on their taxes and mortgage for the previous three years and not in any kind of bankruptcy,” said Perez. “Total property debt, including Ygrene financing and existing liens, must not exceed the building value and financing cannot exceed 20 percent of the building value. We’re really excited about this program and looking forward to introducing it to the Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens area as well.”