When California state legislators voted to approve Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Escondido was one of the first areas to embrace this innovative home energy and efficiency financing model.
Escondido, as well as San Diego County and many others within the county, adopted PACE with the goal of helping local homeowners make renewable energy and energy- and water-efficiency upgrades that can lower utility bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create sustainable local jobs.
Through the state’s largest PACE program, HERO, more than 650 homeowners in Escondido have made more than 1,400 energy efficiency, water efficiency or solar power improvements to their homes over the last three years. HERO is one of several PACE providers in the county.
Since PACE became available, Escondido has also experienced a boost to the local economy. For example, HERO-funded home improvements have generated $28 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 137 regional jobs through this boost to the local 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.
“PACE is working for homeowners across San Diego county, empowering them to make energy efficiency, clean energy, and water conservation improvements, all of which can result in lower utility bills,” said Nicole Capretz, executive director of the Climate Action Campaign. “These programs are also reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping us meet our climate goals, and creating good-paying, family-supporting jobs across the region.”
The resources saved through PACE-financed efficiency upgrades are significant. In Escondido, HERO-financed home upgrades are on track to save homeowners $29.4 million in utility bills over the expected useful life of the products installed. The city’s homeowners are also projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23,900 tons, which is the equivalent of taking more than 5,000 passenger vehicles off the road for a year. HERO water conservation improvements are projected to save more than 75 million gallons of water.
In San Diego County as a whole, renovation and efficiency projects have been completed in 11,300 homes through the HERO financing program, generating an economic stimulus of $535 million, supporting 2,625 jobs.
Because of the public-private nature of the program, PACE financing offers consumer safeguards that go beyond those found with any other form of home-improvement financing. For example, contractors are only paid at the end of the project, after the homeowner confirms that they are satisfied with the work. In addition, new industry standards require that PACE providers have simple disclosures, confirm financing terms with live phone calls to homeowners, and proactively work with contractors to resolve any post-project complaints.