Miami dips toe into county's green entente
By Patricia Hoyos
Miami will join a number of municipalities in South Florida to form the Green Corridor Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) District, which will allow property owners to finance green improvements through local government.
Miami commissioners voted Thursday to authorize the city manager to execute an agreement with Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami and Miami Shores for establishment of the green corridor.
However, because some commissioners held concerns regarding the program, including whether it could result in predatory lending, commissioners only approved the program for commercial properties for the first year and said they would revisit it down the road for single-family homes and duplexes.
Prior to being approved, the commission had deferred voting on the matter multiple times while it determined if the program's benefits would outweigh the possible risks. City Manager Johnny Martinez said the program appears to be a win-win situation for the property owners and the city.
Supporters of the program say PACE will enable property owners to take energy-efficient measures while creating jobs for local contractors, helping reduce carbon emissions while boosting the local economy.
PACE allows property owners to finance improvements through county-issued bonds and repay through a special assessment tied to property taxes.
Ygrene Energy Fund, a provider of energy retrofit programs for local governments, would come aboard to administer the voluntary program.
According to a statement from Ygrene, the activity generated in Miami by commercial renewal energy and efficiency projects over the next five years will contribute more than 5,025 stable jobs and inject close to $837 million in economic output.
"The unanimous City Commission vote enables Miami to tap into more than $550 million of private capital funding to unlock affordable, immediate accessible financing for commercial building energy upgrades," the statement said.
Proponents of the program, including Cutler Bay's former Mayor Paul Vrooman, have also been trying to get Coral Gables on board. Mr. Vrooman said in an e-mail to Miami Today that Coral Gables is currently looking at joining the program.
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