Officials at the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program today announced that more than 10,000 local jobs have been created in California through HERO projects completed in more than 50,000 homes since the program launched in December 2011. HERO financing enables homeowners to make energy- and water-efficiency improvements and to pay for them over time through their property tax bill. This financing may have tax benefits and homeowners may see immediate savings on utility bills. New jobs created by the program are primarily for contractor services in the clean-energy economy in communities throughout the state.
“What we set out to do in communities throughout California was provide an option for homeowners to affordably choose energy efficiency, renewable energy, or water conserving products when they made needed repairs,” said J.P. McNeill, CEO of Renovate America, the company that administers the HERO Program. “We’ve now done that for 50,000 homeowners—and in turn more than 10,000 new jobs have been created in California.”
The majority of homeowners who choose HERO had a system in their home fail or need replacement or an upgrade. HERO’s PACE financing allows them to make an investment in their home that is likely to lower its operating cost, with no upfront cash required, and to be paid back over terms based on the useful life of the product through their property tax collection. Those terms are often longer than credit cards or home equity lines of credit would allow, bringing monthly payments within reach.
That affordability makes a variety of energy-saving products available, including solar power panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, energy-saving windows and doors, and roofing and insulation. HERO also supports a variety of products to help homeowners save water, including high-efficiency toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; and artificial turf and other drought-tolerant landscaping.
In addition to creating jobs, the 50,000 homeowners will save an estimated $2.2 billion on lower utility bills, conserve 7.8 billion kWh of energy, reduce emissions by 2.1 million tons or the of equivalent taking 400,000 SUVs off the road for a year, and save more than 2.9 billion gallons of water or the equivalent of 92 million showers.
“The transition to a clean energy economy is happening now,” said Congressman Scott Peters. “The Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Agreement, and extension of renewable tax credits continue to encourage private sector investment in clean energy to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change. The success of the HERO Program is proof that we don’t have to choose between a clean environment and a prosperous economy.”
A wide range of jobs contribute to fulfilling a homeowner order for new solar panels, an upgraded heating and air conditioning system, or a water-saving artificial turf installation. By stimulating home renovation activity, PACE financing drives job creation. And because the work is done locally, contractors and support and administrative personnel typically feed their earnings back into their communities, which benefits other local businesses. Jobs created through HERO tend to be long-term, family-wage earning positions.
A recent study conducted by nationally-recognized housing economist Laurie Goodman showed that on average homes with HERO improvements sell at a price premium that can range from $199 to more than $8,800. That means energy and water projects recover and often exceed the investment, compared to recent studies showing popular kitchen and bathroom remodels recover only 58 percent to 66 percent of their costs. Homeowners may also benefit immediately from efficiency-oriented improvements through lower utility bills and potential tax benefits.
The HERO Program 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. Taking part in the HERO Program is 100 percent voluntary for both jurisdictions and property owners. The program is cost neutral to participating local governments. The HERO Program has now been adopted by 370 communities in California, within 37 counties, and has funded more than $1 billion in efficiency upgrades since December 2011.