Madera County saving energy, creating jobs through HERO program

When California state legislators voted to approve Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and encouraged local communities to embrace this innovative home energy and efficiency financing model, Madera County was quick to act.

Madera County, as well as cities within the county, adopted PACE with the goal of helping area homeowners make renewable energy and energy and water-efficiency upgrades that could reduce utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions while creating local clean-energy jobs.

It’s clear that the PACE financing model is working. Through the state’s largest PACE program, HERO, more than 350 homeowners in Madera County have made over 700 energy efficiency, water efficiency or solar power improvements to their homes over the last two and a half years. HERO is just one of several PACE providers in the county.

“The HERO program provides homeowners the opportunity to improve their homes functionality and efficiency while improving their standard of living,” said Supervisor David Rogers. “At the same time the program provides local jobs for contractors, which helps the economy.”

Since PACE became available, Madera County has also seen a positive impact on the local economy. For example, HERO-funded home improvement activity has generated $13.1 million in new economic activity. By stimulating home renovations, PACE increases demand for local contractor services. As a result, the HERO Program is now supporting an estimated 64 regional jobs through this boost to the county economy. Many of these jobs, like those in the local construction sector, cannot be automated or outsourced.

PACE enables homeowners to make energy and efficiency improvements and to pay for them over time at a fixed interest rate through an additional line item on their property taxes. The resources saved through PACE-financed efficiency upgrades are significant. For example, for every 1,000 homes that complete HERO-financed efficiency upgrades, on average: carbon emissions saved are equivalent to taking 8,500 cars off the road for one year; energy saved is equivalent to powering 13,800 homes for one year; and water saved is equivalent to 2.7 million showers.

Because of the public-private nature of the program, PACE financing offers significant additional consumer safeguards not found with other forms of home-improvement financing. One significant new safeguard is that PACE providers are required to give homeowners “Know-Before-You-Owe” disclosure forms so they can easily understand the terms of their PACE financing. Providers that are members of

PACENation, the non-profit advocacy organization that promotes PACE financing, are required to go further and conduct live, recorded phone calls to confirm financing terms and reinforce the written disclosures. In addition, members must offer programs to assist homeowners with post-project issues and to assist homeowners who experience unexpected financial hardship.

More information about PACE can be found at PACENation.us. Residents interested in HERO financing for their homes are invited to visit www.heroprogram.com/ca/central-california.

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