[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Council of Wicomico County 5-1-2018 by Bill No. 2018-04. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Enabling legislation — See Annotated Code of Maryland, Local Government Article, Title 1, Subtitle 11.
In general. In this chapter the following words have the meanings indicated.
- CERTIFIED GENERAL REAL ESTATE APPRAISER
- An individual who is certified as a real estate appraiser under Title 16 of the Business Occupations and Professions Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
- 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 under the Program.
- CLEAN ENERGY LOAN
- Any loan made by a private lender to a property owner under the Program.
- CLEAN ENERGY LOAN OBLIGATION
- All indebtedness and obligations of a property owner to a clean energy lender under a clean energy financing agreement.
- COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
- Has the meaning stated in § 1-1101 of the Local Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
- The Clean Energy Loan Program.
- PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR
- Any person or entity chosen by the County to manage the Program.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- An owner of a commercial property.
In accordance with the state enabling legislation codified as Title 1, Subtitle 11, of the Local Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, there is a Clean Energy Loan Program to finance certain energy efficiency projects and renewable energy projects.
Participation. Commercial property owners may participate in the program for nonaccelerating loans for a term of up to 20 years.
The loan amount under this Program:
Together with the outstanding balance of the mortgage or deed of trust may not be more than 90% of the full cash value or the appraised value of the property.
The full cash value is determined by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.
The appraised value must be certified by a certified real estate appraiser not more 12 months before the date of the loan application.
Eligibility. In order to be eligible for a loan, the property owner shall:
Have a 100% ownership interest in the property located in Wicomico County for which the improvements are proposed, which shall be identified in the owner's application by legal description and the current deed reference(s);
Demonstrate that the most recent property taxes, 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 first priority lien by all current holders of a mortgage or deed of trust on the property; and
Establish that the owner of the commercial property 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 under §§ 12-127, 12-311, 12-409.1, 12-925, and 12-1029 of the Commercial Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
The following improvements, either new or replacement, to a new or existing commercial property, 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 or the Clean Energy Loan Program Administrator as qualifying as an energy efficiency project or renewable energy project.
Renewable energy source does not include petroleum, nuclear, natural gas, or coal.
Costs incurred. 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 an energy audit;
Feasibility studies and reports;
Project management, design, installation, and construction of the qualifying improvements;
Energy savings or performance guaranty or insurance;
Closing costs of the clean energy loan;
Post-install evaluation, measurement and verification; and
Repayment of clean energy loan through surcharge.
A property owner participating in the Clean Energy Loan Program shall repay the clean energy loan through a surcharge on the property owner's real property tax bill.
On receipt of written notice from the Clean Energy Loan Program Administrator of the execution of a clean energy loan financing agreement, the County shall, within 60 days after the date of the clean energy loan financing agreement, add the surcharge to the property tax 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, and the provisions of Title 14, Subtitle 8, of the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland that apply to a tax lien shall also apply to a lien created under this subsection.
A person or entity that acquires property subject to a surcharge assumes the obligation to pay the surcharge.
The County may assign the surcharge lien to the Clean Energy Loan Program Administrator.
Included costs in surcharge. 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.
Recorded agreement and information required. The property owner and every other person or entity holding any share or part of the record title to the property at the time when the agreement is recorded in the land records shall execute an agreement with the County and the clean energy lender that will be recorded in land records of the County, at the expense of the property owner, which shall identify the property by legal description and its current deed reference(s) and 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 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 to a prepayable clean energy loan;
Notice that the clean energy loan obligations and the County's administrative costs will be repaid through a surcharge included on the owner's real property tax bill that shall be due and payable on the same date as the real property tax bill;
Notice 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
Notice that if payments of surcharges are not timely paid, the surcharge will be collectible as a tax lien through the tax sale process authorized under Tax-Property Article, Title 14, Subtitle 8, of the Annotated Code of Maryland irrespective of whether real property taxes (or any other taxes, charges, or assessments) are due and owing.
Event of default of surcharge.
In the event of default in payment of the clean energy loan surcharge, the County shall collect the unpaid surcharge by enforcing the lien irrespective of whether property taxes (or any other taxes, charges, or assessments) are due and owning.
The County may not incur any liability to the clean energy lender or others in the event of default.
The County shall have no ownership of the surcharges collected except for its administrative costs provided under this chapter.
Except for its administrative costs the County shall pay all surcharge payments to the applicable clean energy lender or the Clean Energy Loan Program Administrator within 30 days after the end of the month in which such amounts are collected.
The County shall have no obligation to make payments to any clean energy lender with respect to any clean energy loan obligation other than that portion of surcharge actually collected from a property owner for the repayment of a clean energy loan.
Payments received from a property owner shall be credited first to unpaid County taxes, assessments, attorney's fee or other administrative costs and charges, including interest or late fees, thereon.
Provision of clean energy loan.
Duty and responsibility of the County. The County:
Shall serve only as a program sponsor pursuant to the state enabling legislation identified above to facilitate loan repayment by including the surcharge on the County real property tax bill for the property and shall have no duty or responsibility for such repayment, usage of the loan funds or compliance of a loan with that legislation or this chapter; and
Adoption of regulations. The Director of Finance may adopt regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
Agreement with private entity for administration allowed. The County Executive may enter into an agreement with a private entity to administer the program. The agreement is subject to the approval of the County Council.
Annual report. The Executive must submit an annual report to the County Council by March 15 of each year describing Program participation, number and dollar value of surcharge billed and collected, and other relevant information pertaining to the prior calendar year.