Millbrae Launches Water- and Energy-Efficiency HERO Program for Local Homeowners

HERO adopted by 362 CA jurisdictions, more than $1.08b in funded projects, 9,100 jobs created

Millbrae, Calif., December 9, 2015 – The Millbrae City Council launched the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program today. HERO PACE financing enables homeowners to make energy- and water-efficiency improvements and pay for them over time through their property tax bill. Interest may be tax-deductible, and homeowners may see immediate savings on utility bills. Residents of Millbrae may now submit applications for HERO financing. Millbrae joins 11 other communities in San Mateo County in making this innovative financing program available to residents, including the cities of Burlingame, Daly City, Foster City, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Woodside, as well as the County of San Mateo for residents of unincorporated areas.

“Investing in efficiency makes sense for homeowners,” said City Council Member Wayne Lee. “It cuts down on utility bills and can increase property values. The HERO Program provides valuable tools for property owners who want to cut down on water and energy use and are looking for a reasonable financing option.”

HERO has helped fund residential efficiency projects in almost 47,000 households in California, totaling more than $1.08 billion in financing. By stimulating home renovation activity, the HERO Program increases demand for local contractor services. HERO is estimated to have spurred the creation of more than 9,100 jobs in California since beginning in December 2011. Cities and counties benefit through economic stimulus and local job growth while helping their communities reach state-imposed water and energy savings goals.

As California’s drought drags on, eligible retrofits give homeowners a fast, affordable way to conserve a desperately-needed resource. HERO has a wide variety of products to help homeowners save water, including high-efficiency toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; and artificial turf and other drought-tolerant landscaping.

A wide variety of energy-saving products are available through HERO as well. Some of HERO’s most popular products include including solar power panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, energy-saving windows and doors, and roofing and insulation.

PACE has been adopted to address a problem conventional financing products have not solved. Each year, several million homes in the U.S. will have systems replaced that affect energy or water consumption – such as Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC), windows, roofs, and water heaters – in most cases because existing products are failing. Unfortunately, the majority of homeowners still select the least-efficient solution because homeowners are not sure how long they are going to stay in their home. As a result, the least-efficient solutions end up being the most expensive when taking into account the total cost of ownership when energy or water costs are factored in.

The HERO Program provides crucial new options to homeowners to choose more efficient improvements: PACE finances 100 percent of the home improvement, requiring no upfront cash outlay; the term of the financing is based on the useful life of the product, up to 20 years, lowering the size of monthly payments; and collection is conducted through regular property tax payments. The products installed must meet federal and state efficiency standards, enabling homeowners to lower monthly utility bills and help pay for the cost of the improvement over time.

PACE was also designed to help achieve public policy objectives. The $1.08 billion financed through HERO to date are projected to save $2 billion on energy bills, conserve 7.2 billion kWh of electricity, reduce emissions by 1.9 million tons (the equivalent of taking 370,700 SUVs off the road for a year), and save more than 2.5 billion gallons of water (the equivalent of 78 million showers). HERO has already generated a local economic impact of almost $1.9 billion in California.

PACE enables local governments to add additional requirements to protect consumers not found in other payment options like credit cards or home equity loans. For example, the HERO Program requires contractors to be licensed with the state and in good standing with HERO, homeowners to obtain all required permits, products and labor to meet fair pricing standards, homeowners to use products certified as efficient by the U.S. Department of Energy or water-conserving by the Environmental Protection Agency, and that payment only be made when the homeowner signs off that the job has been successfully completed.

The HERO Program has now been adopted by 362 communities in California, within 37 counties. HERO’s success in California is part of a national trend, with PACE programs now enabled in more than 30 states. In August, President Obama named PACE as an innovative, voluntary tool to meet the country’s clean energy and energy efficiency goals and encouraged its use.

“HERO financing brings renewable energy and energy- and water-efficiency within reach for a broad range of homeowners,” said Blair McNeill, Vice President of Community Development for Renovate America, the company that administers the HERO Program. “We are excited to help people make their home more comfortable, all while saving money and reducing their impact on the environment.”

Cities and counties need only pass a resolution in order to make PACE programs like HERO available to local property owners. The HERO Program has received numerous awards, including the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the Urban Land Institute Best of the Best and the Southern California Association of Governments President’s Award for Excellence. Taking part in the HERO Program is 100% voluntary for both jurisdictions and property owners. The program is cost neutral to participating local governments.

For more information please visit www.HeroProgram.com. To schedule interviews with local HERO representatives, elected officials, homeowners, or contractors, or for a media kit, please contact Severn Williams at 510-336-9566, or sev@publicgoodpr.com.

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