When it comes to protecting our homes from hurricane damage, no one is more aware of the potential benefits than homeowners in coastal counties like Palm Beach. In 2016, we got relatively lucky when Hurricane Matthew inflicted only minimal damage on our area. We all know, however, that we remain vulnerable to the types of damage that struck areas like Flagler and Volusia. One of the best ways Palm Beach County residents can prepare for future hurricanes is to make improvements like hurricane-resistant roofing and adding storm shutters to windows.
On April 4, the Palm Beach County Commission gave county homeowners an innovative financing option for improving their homes’ hurricane resiliency and energy efficiency, or for adding renewable energy systems like solar panels to their properties. The County Commission voted to adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) for county residents. This “yes” vote will not only improve public safety and energy-saving actions, it will also spur job growth and local economic activity as a wave of PACE-financed energy and hurricane-readiness improvements spread across the county.
Homeowners often make these types of improvements when they are in a crisis moment – either their roof has failed due to age, or has been damaged from a major weather event. It’s the same mentality that prevents many of us from upgrading to an energy-efficient water heater until our old water heater suddenly stops working, leaving us with a cold shower, even though we know very well that we would save energy – and money – in the long run if we upgraded to the state-of-the-art model today.
PACE is an innovative form of financing that encourages property owners to invest in hurricane resiliency and efficiency now, instead of later. PACE allows homeowners to install products that can save money on insurance or utility bills and to pay for the work with a fixed, competitive interest rate over time through their property taxes.
PACE-financed home improvement projects have a multiplier effect on many fronts: They increase demand for contractor services, which in turn creates quality construction-sector jobs and drives up economic activity in general. Estimates for Palm Beach County show that, as PACE financing expands in the residential sector, we can expect to see a saving of 727 million kilowatt hours, the creation of up to 1,100 jobs and a boost to our local economy by as much as $189 million in the first five years the program is active.
Palm Beach County joins its neighbors Broward and Miami-Dade Counties in making PACE financing available to homeowners. Within the county, Boynton Beach, Lake Clark Shores and Golf have already embraced this innovative new policy on their own. Now homeowners throughout Palm Beach County will have access to PACE.
As a community facing catastrophic weather and climate impacts, Palm Beach County has given its residents access to a valuable tool to help them be prepared and save energy at home. And PACE financing is cost-neutral to public budgets.
TIM GRABOSKI, DERFIELD BEACH
Editor’s note: Tim Graboski is the owner and operator of Graboski Roofing.
Estimates for Palm Beach County show that, as PACE financing expands in the residential sector, we can expect to see a saving of 727 million kilowatt hours.