PACE septic-to-sewer expansion clears first Senate panel

A bill that would add to the list of home improvement projects eligible for PACE funding was unanimously endorsed in the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

SB 1208, sponsored by Doral Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguezwould add several improvement projects to the PACE list, including battery systems, asbestos reduction and lead pipe replacement. The headliners are, however Conversions of septic tanks to sewers and flood protection projects.

PACE, short for “Property Energy Clean Energy”, is a form of finance in which homeowners repay the cost of certain property upgrades by assessing their property tax bill.

The program is currently geared towards improving energy efficiency, such as installing solar panels or new insulation.

Supporters say the Rodriguez Floridians bill would help them complete the septic tank to sewer conversions faster, as the upgrade would otherwise incur high upfront costs and subsidies to subsidize the conversions would largely be exhausted.

Research has shown that aging septic tanks and inadequate sewage systems have been a major source of nitrogen, which fuels ecological disasters like blue-green algae blooms. The more conversions of septic tanks into sewers, the less pollution of the state waterways.

Supporters are local governments as well as the PACE industry. Ygrene Energy Fund, a major PACE provider, commended the Senate panel for advancing the bill on Wednesday.

“Today’s unanimous and bipartisan vote is an important step on the way to a more resilient and greener Florida. Thank you Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez for her tireless work in helping millions achieve the real estate upgrades they need to protect their families, investments, and the environment, ”said Ygrene, CEO Jim Reinhart said.

“We look forward to continuing to support Senator Rodriguez and her colleagues in both the Florida House and the Senate as SB 1208 and HB 387 find their way through the committee process.”

SB 1208 now heads the Senate’s Finance and Tax Committee. The house companion, HB 387 of Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine, will go before the subcommittee on tourism, infrastructure and energy of the house on Thursday.

In addition to expanding the scope of PACE, the invoices provide a range of consumer protection measures to help borrowers better understand loan terms and how PACE repayment works.

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