Renewable Energy Program To Be Made Available To Santa Monica Residents

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013, 7:51:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

In

an attempt to have more Santa Monica businesses and homeowners proactively

install more energy efficient and renewable energy systems within their

respective homes, the City Council unanimously approved last Tuesday night as part of its

consent calendar to make homeowners eligible to participate in a financing

program to cover the costs of such improvements.

Known

as the California Home Energy Retrofit Opportunity (HERO) Program and part of

the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program, property owners in

Santa Monica will, according to City staff, now be able “to borrow the cost of

energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems by placing a

voluntary assessment on their property tax bill.”

“Making

PACE financing available to Santa Monica property owners has the potential to

stimulate the installation of energy efficiency improvements and renewable

energy systems,” City staff stated.

Both

commercial and residential property owners in Santa Monica are eligible to

participate in the HERO program. Any and all participation in the program is

voluntary, according to City staff.

As

the financial burden of installing energy efficiency improvements and renewable

energy systems would fall entirely on the property owner, no costs would be

endured by City Hall.

Those

who choose to participate in the program would receive financing through a bond

attached to the property.

“Participating

property owners repay the cost of the improvements through an assessment levied

against their property which is payable in semi-annual installments on property

tax bills,” City staff stated. “A lien is filed against the property as

security until the assessment is re-paid. The assessment remains with the

property should the owner transfer or sell the property before the loan is

re-paid.”

According

to City staff, the HERO program was launched in 2012 and funded more than $25

million in energy and water efficiency and renewable energy investments in

4,000-plus homes within its first year.

A

statewide program, council members had to adopt a resolution to allow Santa

Monica property owners to participate in HERO. Such a resolution was attached

to the consent calendar item.

The

program specifically aims to help property owners install energy and water

efficiency improvements, renewable energy systems, and electric vehicle

charging infrastructure.

“PACE

financing through a program such as the California HERO Program mitigates two

key barriers that often prevent property owners from installing energy

efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy projects,” City staff stated.

“It eliminates the need for property owners to pay out of pocket up-front costs

for improvements, and … it establishes a loan obligation that is attached to

the property and not to the individual borrower.”

In

its report to council members, City staff stated the financing program could

help spur the economy.

“The

availability of PACE financing can be a catalyst in spurring the local economy

by creating energy retrofit jobs and stimulating construction activities,” City

staff stated. “Energy retrofit improvements to existing buildings would allow

property owners to reduce energy and water use as well as greenhouse gas

emissions. Participating property owners would reduce operating costs for electricity,

natural gas and water and improve the comfort and safety of their homes and

businesses.”

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