Clean energy financing bill passed

Lawmakers passed a bill April 7 that will help property owners make energy-efficient upgrades.

LB1012, introduced by Omaha Sen. Heath Mello, allows municipalities to create a clean energy assessment district. Property owners within such a district are eligible for energy-efficient home improvements on residential and commercial properties, financed by the municipality.

Qualifying energy-efficiency improvement projects can include new insulation, windows and doors, heating and air-conditioning modifications or replacements and energy-efficient fixtures.

The bill enables any municipality to enter into an assessment contract with the owner of a qualifying property and third-party lenders, if applicable. The financing will be paid back within 20 years through a special assessment on the property owner’s property tax statement.

To qualify for financing, a property owner must not be delinquent on any taxes, special assessments, water or sewer charges, have no involuntary liens on the property and be current on all mortgage debt. Financing and future assessments will follow the property and the obligation will be transferred upon sale of the property.

LB1012 authorizes a municipality to issue revenue bonds to finance qualifying projects, which can be paid back only through assessments levied on the property owners. Any single bond issued by a municipality that exceeds $5 million will require voter approval.

The bill passed on a 45-0 vote.

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