Monthly Archives: April 2014

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Property Owners Can Finance Solar, Energy and Water Efficiency Upgrades; Pay On Property Tax Bill

 

County of San Diego, CA (PRWEB) April 15, 2014

The County of San Diego has selected multiple providers to offer financing as part of the newly approved Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The new program is designed to make energy- and water- efficiency upgrades affordable. Residential and commercial property owners can lower their utility bills and increase their property values with financing that attaches to their property tax bill.

The County has approved the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity Program (HERO), FigTree Financial and California First. These institutions provide financing, while also directing property owners to a choice of authorized contractors who have experience installing energy- and water-efficiency upgrades.

Attaching the financing of energy and water efficiency upgrades to the property tax bill is referred to as “property assessed clean energy” financing. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved participation in multiple PACE programs, adopting an “open PACE marketplace” approach, wherein several companies have been selected to serve the community. This creates a competitive environment where service providers are pushing themselves to provide exceptional service and products to the community.

“Residential PACE gives our county unincorporated residents a great opportunity to install energy-saving devices on their homes. It also puts people to work and really helps to stimulate our economy,” said County Supervisor Dave Roberts. “Residential PACE will result in energy and water savings for County residents, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Carlsbad, Escondido, Lemon Grove, San Diego, San Marcos, Solana Beach, Oceanside and Vista and are among the San Diego County cities that either currently offer the program or have adopted it. County adoption expands service availability to residents in all unincorporated parts of the county.

“It’s great to see the County of San Diego taking an open market approach by offering multiple PACE programs,” said Dustin Reilich, HERO Director of Municipal Development. “Property owners will more quickly learn about the advantages of PACE and get to choose the program that best fits their needs, and the community will see greater results.”

A key advantage of using the property tax bill to amortize investments, such as solar installations, is that the cost of the improvement integrates with the property tax bill. In the event an owner decides to sell the property, any remaining debt typically transfers to the new property owner, although the debt can also be paid off at the time of sale, if so desired.

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By J. Harry Jones
San Diego Union Tribune

 

Programs Finance Home and Business Energy Improvement Projects

ESCONDIDO — Two new ways to finance energy and water-efficient home improvement projects without significant upfront costs are now available to Escondido residents and business owners.

Last week, the Escondido City Council approved participation in two programs that allow commercial and residential property owners to finance hundreds of types of projects — such as insulation, solar panels and high-efficiency faucets — through long-term, low-cost, financing paid through their property tax bill.

Similar programs have been approved by a number of cities in the county, including San Diego just this past week. Others include Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos, Lemon Grove and Solana Beach.

The program finances 100 percent of the cost to purchase and install eligible products with low-fixed interest rates, flexible payment terms for most products, and repayments are made though your property taxes.

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed said the city has been discussing involvement in the program for some time.

“I think it’s a benefit to the residents and the businesses in Escondido and it doesn’t cost the city anything,” Abed said during Wednesday’s council meeting. “We just assess the taxes and pay for the capital improvements.”

Councilwoman Olga Diaz said there is an additional advantage.

“What had been holding back the renewable energy market is that people were having to pay upfront the full implementation costs of solar paneling their home which could be $30,000 or $40,000,” she said at the meeting.

But often, she said, if you later sold your home the value wouldn’t necessarily transfer to the sale price. “It was hard to get that value out of your home,” she said. “But under this program if you sell your house the new owner continues to pay that assessment so their paying for their share of the solar power generation. It is meant to string along the payments for that investment, whoever owns it.”

For details about the HERO program on the web go to www.heroprogram.com.

The city is also participating in the Figtree PACE program, which is similar but focuses on commercial, industrial and multifamily properties. For more information about Figtree on the web go to www.figtreefinancing.com.

Improvements are financed with bonds issued through a Joint Powers Authority. The HERO program is authorized through the Western Riverside Council of Governments and administered by Renovate America, a for-profit corporation based in San Diego. The Figtree program is authorized through the California Enterprise Development Authority.

By David Garrick
San Diego Union Tribune

Expanded San Diego Program Eliminates Up-front Costs for Homeowners

SAN DIEGO — San Diego homeowners got a much easier and more affordable way Tuesday to install solar power and make other upgrades that improve energy efficiency and shrink utility bills.

The City Council unanimously approved allowing owners of residential properties to pay for such projects without any up-front costs as part of the state’s “property assessed clean energy” program.

The program was previously open only to the owners of commercial properties, including apartment buildings with at least four units, and residential properties with no mortgages.

Instead of paying for the upgrades immediately, homeowners can now secure private loans from lenders participating in the program and then pay the money back over several years as a surcharge on their property tax bills.

City officials said reductions in utility bills will often be larger than the property tax surcharges.

“It’s a slam-dunk kind of economic stimulus,” Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.

Councilwoman Lori Zapf called the inclusion of residential properties “a long time coming,” noting that former Mayor Jerry Sanders began pursuing such a loan program several years ago.

Industry officials said two-thirds of applicants seeking loans from the program are typically approved.

San Diego joins several other local cities that have approved such programs, including Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos, Lemon Grove and Solana Beach.

An estimated 80 of California’s nearly 550 cities and counties are participating, city officials said. They estimated the programs have created more than $400 million in economic activity across the state.

Adding residential properties to San Diego’s program is expected to create many local jobs and reduce energy use, a greater regional priority since the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station ceased operations last June.

Drawbacks for homeowners include possible hurdles refinancing their mortgages or selling their homes. Some buyers might request homeowners pay off the debt before a purchase can be completed, city officials said.

In addition, city officials said homeowners that have mortgages funded by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac could be at greater risk.

The Federal Housing Finance Administration, which regulates those lenders, has imposed special restrictions on mortgages where homeowners have participated in energy-efficiency loan programs because the loans for energy upgrades have priority over mortgage loans.

That decision curbed the spread of the program, but the state passed legislation last year that aims to help homeowners with loans from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac participate.

The state set aside $10 million over 10 years to cover any outstanding debts for energy-efficient upgrades owed by homeowners who had Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans.

Deputy City Attorney Brant Will said city officials are optimistic the state set aside enough money, but he said the city will warn homeowners of the possible risks.

Will also said rising property values make it less likely homeowners participating in the program will struggle to refinance or sell their homes because they are expected to have accumulated significant equity.

The two lenders participating in San Diego’s program are the Western Riverside Coalition of Governments and the California Enterprise Development Authority.

Will said the city also plans to add a third program in the next few months called Ygrene, which the city of Chula Vista has chosen for its energy-efficient loan program. Under Ygrene, the loans are paid back as part of a community facilities or Mello-Roos district.