For Immediate ReleaseAugust 06, 2014
Program allows efficiency upgrades repaid through property taxes
San Rafael, CA - It’s about to get much easier for Marin property owners to tackle rising energy costs and emerging water scarcity while helping to grow jobs in California’s economy.
Most Marin property owners will soon have access to innovative financing through CaliforniaFIRST to help them afford home energy and water efficiency projects along with renewable energy investments. CaliforniaFIRST uses the residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing method, which allows property owners to secure upfront funding for home efficiency projects repaid through a 20-year special line item on their property taxes instead of traditional consumer credit.
Marin County Supervisors received an update on the program Tuesday from Marin County Community Development Agency Director Brian Crawford and the County’s Sustainability Planner Dana Armanino. District 3 Supervisor Kate Sears, President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, said she hopes the program spurs residents to move forward with energy-saving home projects.
“Many residents have been waiting for years to start projects on their homes and businesses, including installing insulated windows and rooftop solar,” Sears said. “Often these projects get stalled because of concerns about upfront costs even though these improvements will save residents money over the long run.”
Crawford said the PACE program aligns well with the County’s goal of expanding consumer choice for financing renewable and energy efficiency projects. Some current tools include using on-bill financing from the Marin Clean Energy or Pacific Gas and Electric Co., paying cash up front, doing a power purchase agreement, signing on for a solar lease or using a home equity loan. “The availability of this program means that homeowners will be better positioned to find an option that best fits their needs,” Crawford said.
Operated under the auspices of the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA), CaliforniaFIRST is now available through a partnership with 17 counties covering 142 municipalities. The program already is available to property owners in the unincorporated portions of the Marin and properties in Larkspur, Novato and San Rafael.
PACE financing has great potential to reduce energy use, improve the environment and create local jobs. CaliforniaFIRST estimates that if just 1 percent of Marin homeowners complete an energy-saving PACE project, it would save approximately 658 megawatt hours of electricity, the equivalent to the annual electricity usage of about 120 Marin homes.
“I hope every town in Marin decides to participate in CaliforniaFIRST,” Sears said. “We need to do everything we can to use energy, water and other resources as efficiently as possible, and this program is a big boost to that effort.”
Under the CaliforniaFIRST program, administered by Oakland-based Renewable Funding, homeowners choose a qualified contractor and install a custom clean-energy project. A typical system would include the purchase and installation of heating and cooling systems, solar panels, low-flow toilets, home insulation, windows, roofs and artificial turf. Through PACE, the property owners’ repayment is handled through property tax bills.
Cisco DeVries, CEO of Renewable Funding, pioneered the innovation of PACE in Berkeley. “Homeowners and their trusted contractors are one phone call away from making their dream project a reality,” DeVries said. “It is now easier than ever for homeowners to invest in projects that improve their property values and reduce their utility bills.”
To learn more, check local availability and find a list of qualified contractors and eligible equipment, visit www.CaliforniaFIRST.org.
Dana ArmaninoSenior Planner, Sustainability TeamCommunity Development Agency
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite 308San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-3292Email: Dana ArmaninoCDA Sustainability website