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Press release 

INYO COUNTY, Calif.  – Before now, a Bishop homeowner who wanted to go solar, replace their AC unit, or install new efficient windows and doors would have had to pay for the project up front or take out a loan.

Now, homeowners can instead finance 100% of their efficiency-related repairs and upgrades through the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. Recently approved by the Bishop City Council, HERO financing provides new options for homeowners to make energy- and water-efficiency improvements, and to spread out payments 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.

Bishop joins numerous municipalities in neighboring counties in partnering with this innovative financing program, including all municipalities in Fresno and San Bernardino Counties.

“The HERO Program partners with the public sector to support a program with strong consumer protections and local economic and environmental impact—at 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.”

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.

The White House last month held up the PACE model as a mechanism to expand access to clean energy to more homeowners. At the same time, FHA issued clear policy guidance endorsing PACE and allowing residential PACE assessments to exist concurrently with home mortgages secured by the FHA in the event of purchases and refinances.

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 14,900 jobs in communities throughout California since December 2011. HERO has provided a total of $1.75 billion in financing for home efficiency upgrades to date.

Improving Home Efficiency: Reducing Emissions, Conserving Water

PACE was approved by the California legislature to help achieve important environmental public policy objectives. The $1.75 billion in efficiency projects financed through HERO to date will save $2.96 billion on energy bills, conserve 11.2 billion kWh of electricity, reduce emissions by 3 million tons (the equivalent of taking 572,277 SUVs off the road for a year), and save 5.61 billion gallons of water (the equivalent of 179 million shows) 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 now in its fifth year of drought. 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 has now been adopted by 429 communities in California, within 48 counties, and is currently expanding into Florida and Missouri. HERO’s success 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 homeowners—and 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 Parnerships by the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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