Picking up the PACE on energy and water efficiency in 167 California cities

Wed, 2014-03-26 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

In what's being called the largest Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the U.S., Californians in 167 cities will soon be able to save money by reducing their energy and water use through an innovative public-private financing partnership.

Under the auspices of the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA), the CaliforniaFIRST residential PACE program will launch this summer with a goal to make energy and water efficiency projects more affordable and accessible for millions of California homeowners.

"With California in a severe drought and facing higher energy costs, this is a win-win in the truest sense," said Cisco DeVries, CEO of Renewable Funding. "Homeowners throughout the state will now have more options to lower their energy and water bills and generate clean energy."

Renewable Funding is administering the program through which homeowners can choose a contractor and install a custom-tailored clean energy project – for instance, HVAC systems, solar panels, low-flow toilets, home insulation, windows and roofs. Through PACE, property owners' repayment is secured through a special tax assessment repaid by the homeowner through the property tax bill over up to 20 years. 

Earlier this month California officials created a PACE mortgage loss reserve program to address concerns raised by mortgage entities.

However, PACE programs are not new. According to a CaliforniaFIRST press release, the PACE financing mechanism was first pioneered by Berkeley, California in 2008 and has since spread to over 30 states.  Over $200 million in commercial and residential PACE financing has transacted – but that number is expected to grow dramatically with the launch of CaliforniaFIRST. 

Read more about the program in this Environmental Defense Fund post.