Opinion Editorial by Mike Lemyre

Special to the Sun Sentinel

June 24, 2019

Earlier this month, CoreLogic released its 2019 Storm Surge Report — a sobering collection of data detailing the incredible threat that storm surge poses to Florida and a reminder of the immediate need to get prepared and invest in resiliency.

According to the report, more than 7.3 million homes in the U.S. along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts have the potential for storm surge damage, with Florida bearing the most exposure with more than 2.9 million homes at risk and the highest reconstruction cost value at more than $603 billion.

With devastating storms nearly guaranteed to impact Florida in the coming years, CoreLogic’s report makes clear the essential value of resiliency-focused options, like the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, for families to strengthen their homes.

Unfortunately, we have seen the devastating consequences of not properly preparing for the impacts of severe tropical weather. Storm after storm brings unthinkable destruction and the tremendous loss of both property and life.

If Florida and other vulnerable states are to break the cycle and avoid future massive damage and losses such as those calculated by CoreLogic, access to affordable financing for resiliency-focused home improvements through programs like PACE is critical. Families deserve every possible option to safely and affordably prepare their homes, and PACE is an essential policy that every community can make available.

The PACE model is proven and has shown its value in both real-world application and academic study.

This year, the University of Southern California’s (USC) Schwarzenegger Institute conducted a study on the economic impacts of PACE in Florida. The good news — the researchers found that families in the Sunshine State who make resiliency improvements to their homes through PACE programs will realize insurance premium discounts and savings over the next 20 years totaling more than $1.1 billion.

The report, titled Impacts of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program on the Economies of California and Florida, found that along with saving Florida families more than a billion dollars over the next 20 years, PACE programs also generate significant economic benefit and create jobs. The results of the study speak for themselves:

The $275 million investment in hurricane mitigation improvements already made through PACE in Florida is estimated to result in avoided losses of more than $500 million for property damage costs and nearly $135 million for temporary homeowner relocation costs;

  • Home improvement investments made through PACE in Florida in just five short years have already resulted in a $51 million increase to Florida’s gross state product — and those same projects also led to the creation of more than 600 jobs; and
  • Over the next 50 years, PACE will help create more than 16,000 new Florida jobs and increase the state’s gross domestic product by more than $700 million.

Simply put, this leading-edge report makes clear what thousands of homeowners and more than 170 local governments in Florida already know — PACE programs have immense benefits to local communities and provide incredible opportunities for homeowners to invest in a stronger place to call home.

With the 2019 hurricane season now upon us, millions of Floridians have already made the smart choice of taking the time to get prepared. However, as is evident in the CoreLogic report, there has never been a more critical time to ensure families have access to affordable options to take the extra step in preparedness and invest in the resiliency of arguably their largest asset — their home.

As the USC researchers detailed, PACE has significant and long-term positive impacts that save families money while allowing them to build safer and stronger communities.

In Florida, PACE is a proven and essential public policy and local governments should take a look at making sure this program is an option for their families.

Mike Lemyre is a senior vice president at Ygrene Energy Fund, Inc. and is responsible for government affairs and public relations.


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