County supervisors select 2 PACE providers
One of the financing firms rejected by San Joaquin County Community Development Department staff to participate in the Property Assessment Clean Energy Program asked for reconsideration Tuesday.
Still, only two firms were approved by supervisors, as recommended by staff.
The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved Renovate America, Inc. and Renew Financial as program providers for the PACE program for unincorporated areas of the county to take effect Feb. 1.
Renovate America, Inc. and Renew Financial were two of 64 firms the county contacted to provide long-term financing to residents so they can install renewable and energy-efficient improvements in their homes.
The firms provide the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity and CaliforniaFIRST programs, respectively, two of the most well known in California’s renewable energy market.
Two other firms, Figtree Financing and Ygrene Energy Fund, also submitted applications but were rejected because they did not submit audited financial statements by an Oct. 30 deadline.
Kerry Sullivan, community development department director, said the statements were required by request for proposals sent out to all 64 firms.
But George Apostolopoulos, a representative with Ygrene Energy Fund, asked that his firm be placed back in the consideration pool during the public comment segment of Tuesday’s meeting.
“We’re the number one PACE program in the country, and we’re number two overall in the market,” Apostolopoulos said. “We have won multiple bids over the five years we’ve been in existence, in San Luis Obispo and Sacramento, among other places.”
Supervisors asked Sullivan if there was a possibility Ygrene Energy Fund could be considered again if it submitted the proper documentation.
Sullivan replied that staff also had concerns with the company’s long-term sustainability, and recommended not considering Ygrene in the future.
With Tuesday’s approval, residents in unincorporated areas of the county will be able to apply for the CaliforniaFIRST program immediately.
But staff will need to send all required HERO documentation to the Western Riverside Council of Governments, the agency overseeing enrollment and implementation of the program.
Once documentation is filed in early February, it will take as many as 60 days before the HERO PACE program can begin and residents in unincorporated areas of the county can apply.
The PACE program allows residents to apply for full financing for energy efficient amenities, such as solar panels or drought tolerant landscaping, on their property.
Once the amenities are installed, residents begin paying the PACE loans back through property taxes over the course of about 20 years.
Sullivan stressed that the county will not be taking applications from residents, as that is the responsibility of the two firms.
The firms will review the applications, determine if residents are eligible, and act as the go-between between residents and banks, Sullivan said.
In addition, she said the two firms will provide homeowners with a list of licensed contractors that can install energy-efficient features, provide homeowners with a list of disclosures, and place property assessments on the county tax roll.
The county’s role is to direct homeowners to the two firms, issue the building permits for projects, process the tax assessments and update its website with PACE information, she said.
“We will not be an advocate for the program,” Sullivan said. “All we are doing is directing people who have questions to the PACE providers, and they administer the program. We don’t want to imply that we’re the go-between for homeowners and providers.”
Supervisor Kathy Miller worried that if the two companies were to go out of business, the county would have to eat whatever financing wasn’t paid to homeowners and, ultimately, the lost property taxes.
But Joe Livaich, regional PACE director at Renew Financial, said his firm has taken measures to ensure consumers are protected in the event of financial crisis.
“I want to assure you that we do take these things seriously,” he said. “We have steps in place that we’ve used since the beginning of our program. We’re excited about this program and are happy to be at this point in the process today.”
Supervisors directed staff to make sure its website lays out the roles of both the county and providers, as well as provides information as to consumer and senior protection.
“I think this is a benefit certainly for the homeowners, but also community,” Supervisor Chuck Winn said. “It’s also a benefit for the economy, because this will no doubt increase jobs. Hopefully, we can get this going so the list of residents calling my office can get the information they need to proceed.”
NFor more information about PACE programs, go to pacenow.org.
Originally published in Recordnet.com.