[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Charles County 9-15-2016 by Bill No. 2016-05. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Definitions. In this chapter, the following words have the meanings indicated:
- CLEAN ENERGY FINANCING AGREEMENT
- An agreement between a property owner and a clean energy lender providing for the terms and conditions of a clean energy loan.
- CLEAN ENERGY LENDER
- A private lender providing a clean energy loan.
- CLEAN ENERGY LOAN
- Any loan made by a private lender to a property owner under the Clean Energy Loan Program.
- CLEAN ENERGY LOAN OBLIGATION
- All indebtedness and obligations of a property owner to a clean energy lender under a clean energy financing agreement.
- CLEAN ENERGY LOAN PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR or PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR
- Any person or entity selected by the County to manage the Clean Energy Loan Program.
- COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
- Has the meaning stated in Title 1, Subtitle 11, of the Local Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
- The Charles County Department of Fiscal and Administrative Services.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- An owner of commercial property as defined in this subsection.
Program established; administration.
There is a Clean Energy Loan Program to finance energy efficiency projects and renewable energy projects in accordance with Title 1, Subtitle 11, of the Local Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
Rules and regulations, guidelines. The Department may adopt rules and regulations, or guidelines, to administer the Clean Energy Loan Program consistent with this subtitle.
Program administrator. The County Commissioners of Charles County may enter into an agreement with a public or private entity to administer the Clean Energy Loan Program.
Scope. Commercial property owners are eligible to participate in the Clean Energy Loan Program for nonaccelerating loans greater than $25,000.
Eligibility. In order to be eligible for a clean energy loan, the property owner shall:
Have a 100% ownership interest in the property located in Charles County for which improvements are proposed;
Obtain an energy audit approved under program guidelines demonstrating that the savings projected to be obtained from the improvements over the life of the loan equal or exceed the principal and aggregate interest to be paid over the term of the loan;
Demonstrate that the most recent property taxes, liens, special assessments, and charges on the property have been paid;
Provide a copy of written notice to all current holders of a mortgage or deed of trust who have a priority recorded lien on the property and written proof of express consent to the clean energy loan as a priority lien by all current holders of a mortgage or deed of trust on the property; and
Establish that the property owner is able to repay the loan provided under the Clean Energy Loan Program, in a manner substantially similar to that required for a mortgage loan according to the Commercial Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and any additional criteria and methods required by the clean energy lender.
Qualifying improvements. The following improvements, either new or replacement, qualify as energy efficiency or renewable energy projects under the Clean Energy Loan Program:
Solar energy equipment;
Geothermal energy devices;
Wind energy systems;
Water conservation devices not required by law;
Any construction, renovation or retrofitting of commercial property to reduce energy consumption, including high-efficiency lighting and building systems, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, high-efficiency boilers and furnaces, high-efficiency hot water heating systems, combustion and burner upgrades, fuel switching, heat recovery and steam traps, building shell or envelope improvements, fenestration improvements, building energy management systems, and process equipment upgrades; and
Any other improvement approved by the County as qualifying as an energy efficiency project or renewable energy project.
Qualifying costs. A clean energy loan may be used to pay for all costs incurred by a property owner in connection with the qualifying improvements, including the cost of the energy audit; feasibility studies and reports; project management, design, installation, and construction of the qualifying improvements; commissioning; energy savings or performance guaranty or insurance; building accreditation; closing costs of the clean energy loan; permitting fees; administrative fees; and post-install evaluation, measurement and verification.
Repayment of loans. A property owner participating in the Clean Energy Loan Program shall repay the clean energy loan through a surcharge on his/her real property tax bill. Upon receipt of written notice from the Clean Energy Loan Program Administrator of the execution of a clean energy loan financing agreement, the County shall, on the July full-year billing add the surcharge to the tax property bill. The surcharge shall constitute a first lien on the property from the date it becomes payable until the unpaid surcharge and interest and penalties on the surcharge are paid in full, regardless of a change in ownership, whether voluntary or involuntary. A person or entity that acquires property subject to a surcharge assumes the obligation to pay such surcharge. The County may assign the surcharge lien to the Clean Energy Loan Program Administrator.
Calculation. The surcharge for a clean energy loan shall include the clean energy loan obligation and any administrative costs incurred by the County, which shall be the actual expenses incurred to administer the program.
Agreement. The property owner shall execute an agreement with the County and the clean energy lender that will be recorded in the land records of Charles County, at the expense of the property owner, and which shall include:
The date the clean energy loan was made to the property owner and the property became subject to the surcharge;
The term of the clean energy loan and the term over which the surcharge will apply to the property;
The amount of the clean energy loan obligation and estimated County administrative costs for the first year;
The annual principal and interest amount for each year of the term of the clean energy loan, including any partial year prorated amounts;
The prepayment requirements and any prepayment premium that may apply, if the loan is a prepayable clean energy loan;
Agreement by the property owner to repay all clean energy loan obligations and the County's administrative costs through a surcharge included on the property owner's real property tax bill due and payable on the same date as the real property tax bill;
Acknowledgement by the property owner that an unpaid clean energy loan surcharge constitutes a first lien on the property that has priority over prior or subsequent liens in favor of private parties, and that the surcharge will continue as a lien on the property from the date it becomes payable until the unpaid surcharge and interest and penalties on the surcharge are paid in full, regardless of a change in ownership of the property, whether voluntary or involuntary; and
Acknowledgement by the property owner and the lender that the County has no liabilty for the clean energy loan obligation or any costs associated with the collection of amounts due under the clean energy financing agreement; and
Acknowledgement by the property owner that an overdue surcharge shall be collected as a tax lien pursuant to Title 14, Subtitle 8, of the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, and the Charles County Code and that an overdue surcharge will be so collected, irrespective of whether real property taxes (or any other taxes, charges, or assessments) are due and owing.
Default. If a propety owner defaults on the clean energy loan surcharge, the lien will be collected pursuant to Title 14, Subtitle 8, of the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, and the Charles County Code, irrespective of whether property taxes (or any other taxes, charges, or assessments) are due and owing. The County shall not incur any liability to the clean energy lender or others in the event of default.
Credit of payments. Payments received from a property owner shall be credited first to all County taxes, assessments, and charges.
Payment to clean energy lender. The County shall forward surcharges, less administrative costs of the County, to the clean energy lenders or the Program Administrator within 30 days of receipt.
Private lenders; terms. The clean energy loans may be provided by any private lender, and a clean energy financing agreement may contain any terms agreed to by the clean energy lender and the property owner, as permitted by law, for the financing of clean energy loans.
County role. The County's role in the Clean Energy Loan Program is limited to sponsoring the Program and collecting and forwarding the surcharges imposed under the Program. The County may not provide clean energy loans or other financing in connection with this Program.