Clean energy home loans favored
September 18, 2012
Making a home more energy-efficient saves money in the long run, but the upfront costs can be prohibitive. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing allows homeowners to use government bonds to finance energy upgrades, which are then paid back through taxes using the energy savings.
"So you put solar panels on your roof, for example, and you pay it back through taxes," Summit County Department of Building Standards Senior Administrator Stephanie Dolmat-Connell said at the Sept. 12 Summit County Council meeting.
Councilmember Sally Elliot said she couldn’t imagine why anybody would oppose it.
"It’s such a great idea, and it’s an incentive for people to be able to put it into a tax deductible thing," Elliot said.
But an entity is opposing it. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has proposed a rule that will block PACE Financing.
"This is a letter that objects to that rule, because PACE financing can be a very effective way to get clean energy onto houses," said Dolmat-Connell.
Council Chairman Dave Ure was originally concerned about how the clean energy financing would be funded.
He said that while the idea for PACE Financing is good, he was concerned it took funding from the county.
"Because in another six weeks we are going to be fighting over money to put into our budget," Ure said. "And if we have a certain amount of our budget worked out on these clean energy issues that makes that much less money that we can use on other things."
But he was assured it would only come out of bond money.
"There are a variety of ways to pay for it, but the most common is to say to people, ‘If you wish to weatherize your house or put on solar panels, we will include you in an assessment district,’" County Manager Bob Jasper said. "We will issue an assessment bond for all those people to pay all the costs of doing it. And you pay us back. And you should be able to pay us back because you are going to save so much on your utility bill."
Councilmember Chris Robinson said he thinks the energy upgrades add value to a home, and if multiple homes are getting upgrades then it increases the purchasing power for the upgrades.
"There are savings all around," Robinson said.
With the council’s backing, Jasper agreed to sign the letter.