A decision last week by the Florida Supreme Court will allow Florida municipalities to issue bonds to fund property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs, which provide up front financing to commercial property owners who want to use green energy in their buildings.
Commercial property owners could tap into this financing source for green energy-related improvements such as doing energy-efficiency retrofits to buildings or adding solar structures.
The decision was the outcome of an appeal of a bond validation judgment in the Leon County Energy Improvement District's favor. The district has been seeking the authority to issue $200 million in bonds to fund a PACE program, and appeals of validation hearing judgments go directly to the Florida Supreme Court.
‘The ruling is a big win for commercial property owners in Florida and a major victory for the state's environment,’ says Ellie Neiberger, an attorney with Bryant Miller Olive, which represented the PACE supporters in the case. ‘The ruling gives local municipalities bonding authority that can make clean energy projects more financially viable for commercial properties around the state.’
The programs have gained traction around the country over the past four years and are proving to be popular in a number of other states, such as California, Connecticut and Ohio, says David Gabrielson, executive director of PACENow, a Pleasantville, N.Y.-based nonprofit that serves as an advocate and information provider for PACE financing.