The HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program is available to local residents of 16 additional cities and five additional counties across California, starting today. HERO PACE financing enables homeowners to make energy- and water-efficiency improvements and to pay for them over time through their property tax bill. HERO financing payments may have tax benefits, and many homeowners see immediate savings on utility bills by investing in efficiency upgrades.
The HERO Program launched this week in the cities of Belvedere, Brisbane, Crescent City, Dos Palos, Dublin, Greenfield, Gustine, King City, Mill Valley, Pinole, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Sausalito, Thousand Oaks and Woodlake, the town of Atherton, and the unincorporated areas of Butte, Kings, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo and Yuba Counties. Residents of these municipalities may now submit applications for HERO financing.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, 78 cities currently offer HERO. With eight new municipalities launching in the Bay Area today, and 11 others across the region, HERO significantly expands its availability in Northern California. Over the four-year history of the program, HERO has made almost 60,000 homes throughout the state more efficient.
"There is ample evidence that PACE financing is a valuable tool for local governments looking to engage residents in efforts to use water and energy more efficiently," said Mayor David Haubert of Dublin. "Here in Dublin, we have made HERO Financing available to local residents to provide another quality option for our residents to choose from."
A New Form of Financing For Home Improvements
PACE addresses a problem conventional financing products have not solved. Each year, several million homes in the U.S. will have systems replaced that affect energy or water consumption such as Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC), windows, roofs, and water heaters in most cases because existing products are failing. Unfortunately, the majority of homeowners still select the least-efficient product. These products end up being more expensive when taking into account the total cost of ownership and energy or water costs. PACE makes it easier for homeowners to select more efficient solutions and converts the moment when a homeowner needs to replace or upgrade a failing system into an opportunity to upgrade a community’s housing stock.
PACE finances 100 percent of the home improvement, requiring no upfront cash outlay; the term of the financing is based on the useful life of the product, up to 20 years, spreading costs out over time; and PACE keeps other existing credit sources available to help meet goals and emergencies.
Highest Level of Consumer Protections in Home Improvement Industry
As a partner with local government, PACE financing includes additional requirements to protect consumers not found in other payment options like credit cards or home equity loans. For example, the HERO Program will only pay a contractor after the homeowner signs off that the job has been completed to their satisfaction. Contractors must be licensed with the state and in good standing with HERO; all required permits must be submitted; products and labor must meet fair pricing standards; and homeowners must use products certified as efficient by the U.S. Department of Energy or water-conserving by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Creating Local Jobs
By stimulating home renovation activity, the HERO Program increases demand for local contractor services. HERO is estimated to have spurred the creation of more than 12,000 jobs in communities throughout California since December 2011. In the nine Bay Area counties, HERO has provided efficiency upgrades for more than 1800 properties, for a total of $45.3 million in financing. Statewide, this total comes to $1.41 billion.
Improving Home Efficiency: Reducing Emissions, Conserving Water
PACE was approved by the California legislature to help achieve important environmental public policy objectives. The $1.41 billion in efficiency projects financed through HERO to date will save $2.5 billion on energy bills, conserve 9 billion kWh of electricity, reduce emissions by 2.4 million tons (the equivalent of taking 463,000 SUVs off the road for a year), and save almost 3.8 billion gallons of water (the equivalent of 121 million showers) over the lifetime of the products.
Products aimed at improving energy efficiency and renewable energy are available through HERO. Some of HERO’s most popular products include solar power panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, energy-saving windows and doors, and roofing and insulation.
California is still in a state of drought, despite the rainy El Niño winter. HERO financing is available to pay for a wide variety of products to help homeowners cut down on water use, including drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; and artificial turf and other drought-tolerant landscaping.
"The HERO Program partners with the public sector to support a program with strong consumer protections and local economic and environmental impactat no cost to taxpayers," said Blair McNeill, Vice President of Community Development for Renovate America, the company that administers the HERO Program. "The program has been proven to create jobs while helping communities reach their emissions and water use reduction targets. With HERO, a broad range of homeowners can be a part of the climate change solution, while making their homes more safe and comfortable and potentially cutting energy and water bills."
The HERO Program has now been adopted by 400 communities in California, within 43 counties. HERO’s success in California is part of a national trend, with PACE programs now enabled in more than 30 states. Cities and counties need only pass a resolution in order to make PACE programs like HERO available to homeownersand there is no cost to taxpayers. HERO has received numerous awards, including the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the Urban Land Institute Best of the Best, and the Southern California Association of Governments President’s Award for Excellence. In March, HERO was awarded the U.S. Climate Leadership Certificate for Innovative Partnerships by the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).