Riverside County’s Property Assessed Clean Energy Program Tops $100mm, Goes State-Wide

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Homeowners are helping fuel the transition to a clean energy economy, conservation, and more efficient use of energy, water, and other natural resources. Home to the most successful Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the nation, California’s Riverside County has announced that its HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) Program financing is now available throughout the Golden State.

Launched in December 2011 by a partnership made up of 17 cities, Riverside County, Renovate America, SAMAS Capital, Public Financial Management, and David Tausig and Associates, nearly 6,000 homeowners have applied for HERO financing. More than $100 million has been provided for successful applicants to carry out home clean energy and energy efficiency projects, according to the HERO program partnership.

Photo Credit: GRID Alternatives

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Financing Home Clean Energy & Water Upgrades & Retrofits

It was just back in late September that the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) announced that $40 million in home energy retrofits had been financed via the HERO program.

Now expanding state-wide, WRCOG’s HERO Program is based on the principles set out in California’s AB811, “which allows property owners to pay for permanently affixed energy and water efficient products and renewable energy systems over time through their property taxes.” Eligible projects include Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, insulation, water heating, and solar PV systems, the partnership explains.

Municipal bonds are issued and loans made from banks participating in HERO and other PACE programs to finance residential clean energy, energy efficiency, and water conservation projects. To repay them, homeowners agree to pay more in property taxes over varying periods of time, from 5 to 20 years, with interest payments tax deductible. The payments can be transferred if the home is sold before all payments have been made.

“The rapid expansion of the HERO Financing Program shows us that this is the right program at the right time for our residents,” City of Calimesa Council Member Jim Hyatt commented. “Homeowners are ready to make these investments, and convenient access to affordable financing seems to be making a difference in encouraging homeowners to move forward with these types of projects.”

“Cities and counties that are looking to provide a residential and commercial PACE solution can now do so through HERO. The Program can co-exist with other PACE programs or serve as a stand-alone solution for cities and counties,” added Renovate America’s Mark Rodgers.

The PACE program has also been a boon to local contractors and economies. More than 530 Riverside County contractors have signed on as program participants to date.

“HERO Financing has been a huge part of the growth my business has seen over the past few months. After years of having customers make upgrades only when absolutely necessary, I have been pleasantly surprised to see homeowners coming out of the woodwork to make the changes they have long dreamed about,” Synergy Companies’ Glen Rusche elaborated.

Also adding to the momentum behind growing residential and small-scale solar deployment, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in January announced the state government will provide $150 million a year for the NY-Sun initiative, the goal of which is “to quadruple customer-sited solar capacity in New York State,” sister site Red, Green & Blue recently reported.

“Solar is the fastest-growing energy source in the US, up 500 percent” since President Obama took office, rising from 1,100 megawatts (MW) to more than 6,400 at the end of Q3 2012, Solar Energy Industry Association senior VP Carrie Cullen Hitt noted, adding that the US solar industry now employs more than 119,000 workers at 5,600 companies, mostly small businesses.

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