HERO PACE program available in Bishop

Press release

INYO COUNTY, Calif., February 23, 2016 – The Bishop City Council has voted to make the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program available to local residents. HERO PACE financing enables homeowners to make energy- and water-efficiency improvements and pay for them over time through their property tax bill. HERO payments may have tax benefits, and homeowners may see immediate savings on utility bills. Residents of Bishop may begin submitting applications to HERO this spring.

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“HERO financing brings renewable energy and energy- and water-efficiency within reach for a broad range of homeowners,” said Blair McNeill, Vice President of Community Development for Renovate America, the company that administers the HERO Program. “We are excited to help people make their home more comfortable, potentially lower utility bills, and reduce their impact on the environment.”

Bishop is the first community in Inyo County to partner with this innovative program. Neighboring counties San Bernardino, Kern, Tulare, Fresno, and Mono all have municipalities with active HERO partnerships.

HERO has helped fund residential efficiency projects in more than 54,000 households in California, totaling $1.26 billion in financing. 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 10,700 jobs in California since beginning in December 2011. Cities and counties benefit through economic stimulus and local job growth while helping their communities reach state-imposed water and energy savings goals.

California is still in a state of drought, despite the current El Nino. Eligible retrofits give homeowners a fast, affordable way to conserve water. HERO has a wide variety of products to help homeowners cut down on water use, including high-efficiency toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; and artificial turf and other drought-tolerant landscaping.

A wide variety of energy-saving products are available through HERO as well. Some of HERO’s most popular products include including solar power panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, energy-saving windows and doors, and roofing and insulation.

PACE has been adopted to address 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 solution because homeowners are not sure how long they are going to stay in their home.  These solutions end up being the most expensive when taking into account the total cost of ownership when energy or water costs are factored in.

The HERO Program provides crucial new options to homeowners to choose more efficient improvements:  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, lowering the size of monthly payments; and collection is conducted through regular property tax payments.  The products installed must meet federal and state efficiency standards, potentially enabling homeowners to lower monthly utility bills and help pay for the cost of the improvement over time.

PACE was also designed to help achieve public policy objectives. The $1.26 billion financed through HERO to date are projected to save $2.28 billion on energy bills, conserve 8.2 billion kWh of electricity, reduce emissions by 2.1 million tons (the equivalent of taking 370,700 SUVs off the road for a year), and save more than 3 billion gallons of water (the equivalent of 96 million showers).  HERO has already generated a local economic impact of more than $2.1 billion in California.

PACE enables local governments to add additional requirements to protect consumers not found in other payment options like credit cards or home equity loans.  For example, the HERO Program requires contractors to be licensed with the state and in good standing with HERO, homeowners to obtain all required permits, products and labor to meet fair pricing standards, homeowners to use products certified as efficient by the U.S. Department of Energy or water-conserving by the Environmental Protection Agency, and that payment only be made when the homeowner signs off that the job has been successfully completed.

The HERO Program has now been adopted by 379 communities in California, within 39 counties. HERO’s success in California is part of a national trend, with PACE programs now enabled in more than 30 states. In August, President Obama named PACE as an innovative, voluntary tool to meet the country’s clean energy and energy efficiency goals and encouraged its use.

Cities and counties need only pass a resolution in order to make PACE programs like HERO available to local property owners. The HERO Program has received numerous awards, including the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the Urban Land Institute Best of the Best, the Southern California Association of Governments President’s Award for Excellence, and most recently, inclusion in the 2015 Global Cleantech 100. Taking part in the HERO Program is 100% voluntary for both jurisdictions and property owners. The program is cost neutral to participating local governments.

For more information please visit www.HeroProgram.com.

 

 

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2 Responses to HERO PACE program available in Bishop

  1. Alisha McMurtrie February 26, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    I would advise caution to any property owner prior to entering into this program. The interest rates are at best double the rate of a conventional home improvement loan. Most lenders require these types of loans to be fully paid off should you decide to sell the property as they are not considered a priority lien. Some utility companies are no longer offering incentives (check with your local provider). This program can foreclose on your property after ONE year of delinquent taxes. There have been cases of predatory lenders taking advantage of California residents through these programs. And finally, this program is absolutely not cost neutral to local governments.
    While I support conservation efforts, I am hesitant to endorse a program, even as an alternative option, if there is always a more cost effective way of achieving your goal.
    This program has this office acting as their collection agency. This will add additional workloads to both the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office and the Auditor-Controller’s office for a private sector company. Working on collecting their loans means we will not be working on regular job duties. They will not be fully compensating the County for the cost of this service either. They want to pay the same rate as government agencies, while not being government agencies, to enroll these charges-$1.50 per parcel. Definitely not cost neutral.
    There are many things that the private sector does better than the government and this is definitely one of those areas. Should any of our property owners want to pursue a loan through the PACE program, I encourage you to please review the documents carefully, verify the interest rates and do some comparison shopping. The lower credit requirements will be an attractive feature, but as we are still recovering from the housing bubble I again advise caution. Please do not hesitate to ask questions, either of the City of Bishop who is offering the program or my office as your Tax Collector.

     
  2. Karen Rotchstein February 27, 2016 at 4:48 am #

    Good for you Alisha. Thank you for the information.

     

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