San Francisco’s Demand for Clean Energy Upgrades and Efficiency Improvements to be Met

San Francisco Clean Energy Upgrades
San Francisco's Demand for Clean Energy Upgrades and Efficiency Improvements to be Met

San Francisco Clean Energy Upgrades ( Solar Thermal Magazine)

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted last night to make the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program available to local residents, returning residential PACE financing to the first major city to embrace the idea.

The vote revives a program called GreenFinanceSF that will give San Francisco homeowners access to HERO and two other PACE providers. Applications will be accepted starting in spring 2015.

HERO, which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, makes energy- and water-saving renovations affordable for property owners by providing long-term, competitive financing through an additional property tax assessment. Payments are made through the property tax bill for up to 20 years, and interest is tax-deductible. The HERO program currently finances 95 percent of all residential PACE projects.

“HERO will make it easy and affordable for San Francisco homeowners to reduce carbon pollution and cut energy costs,” said Blair McNeill, Vice President of Community Development for Renovate America and the HERO Program. “San Francisco’s inspiring commitment to implementing a PACE program sets a strong example for cities in California and across the country.”

PACE overcame initial concerns from federal housing authorities that stalled San Francisco’s initial launch of the innovative program four years ago. PACE programs have been active for several years in dozens of Southern California cities. San Francisco’s new approval of the program underscores PACE’s growing momentum in Northern California. HERO, for example, has been approved by several communities across San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda and Sonoma County in recent months.

“GreenFinanceSF will further cement San Francisco’s national role as a leader in reducing the adverse effects of climate change, and make it easy for residential property owners in our neighborhoods to make energy efficiency and water conversation upgrades to their homes while creating good, local jobs on local projects,” said San Francisco District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell.

PACE programs are now flourishing in 31 states. They have become a cornerstone of America’s push for cleaner power and energy independence, and have been especially successful in California.

The HERO Program, for example, has been adopted by more than 225 communities in California and helped to fund more than 22,000 residential projects, totaling more than $420 million in financing. The program also spurs local job creation by increasing demand for contractor services. HERO has helped to create more than 3,500 jobs in the state since its launch in December 2011.

“We’re excited about meeting San Francisco homeowners’ pent-up demand for clean-energy upgrades and efficiency improvements,” said Jack Cooper with Custom Exteriors.

This program will be a huge hit in a city where people care deeply about conservation. It will also help create good-paying jobs in the clean-energy economy.

A wide variety of efficiency products are available to property owners through the HERO Program. Some of HERO’s most popular products include water-saving technologies, solar power panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, energy-saving windows and doors, roofing and insulation.

“San Francisco residents can now protect the environment, save money on utility bills, and make their homes more comfortable all at the same time,” said Deborah Raphael, Director of the Department of the Environment, the city agency responsible for managing the PACE program.

We encourage all local property owners to look into the program.

HERO also has more than 60 product lines, some of which focus on helping homeowners save water during this extended drought, including high-efficiency toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; as well as artificial turf and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Participation in HERO is 100-percent voluntary for both local government agencies and property owners, and is cost neutral for jurisdictions. A growing number of California cities and counties are partnering with multiple PACE providers to increase financing choices available to consumers.

The HERO program has received 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. The program also recently received the 2014 Clean Air Award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Clean Tech OC’s Van Vlahakis’ Environmental Excellence Award.

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