Ten years ago, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs were seen as the great hope to enable the growth of distributed solar and energy efficiency through low-cost financing for home and business owners. And while such programs were largely shut down due to actions by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in 2010, PACE has lived on in both the commercial sector and in a few states. This has been led by California, where state government has been undaunted by federal interference.
On Wednesday the HERO program marked another victory in California, with expansion into a further 26 cities including Fremont, Redding and San Luis Obispo, as well as two unincorporated areas in counties in the northern part of the state. This will allow up to 240,000 additional homeowners to take advantage of the program, which like other PACE programs allows access to low-cost financing with their home as collateral.
This last part can be an important distinction for homeowners with poor credit and/or limited cash, as solar and efficiency improvements can be financed based on the value of the home, not an individual homeowner’s credit rating, and with no up-front cash payment. As such this not only allows many homeowners to access lower interest rates, but expands the number of homeowners who can go solar at all.
According to Renovate America, which runs the HERO program, with the expansion 88% of California households now have access to the program. To date, HERO has supplied $2.1 billion in financing for energy efficiency, water conservation and solar to 88,000 California households.
To date the program has supported 23,000 residential PV arrays, with a combined capacity of 137 MW. Renovate America estimates that 1/3 of HERO financing goes towards residential solar.
Until earlier this week HERO was only available to residential customers, however in partnership with Greenworks Lending Renovate America has begun offering commercial PACE in Missouri, and expects to expand this program to California and Florida later this year.