Going green has never been so easy for Del Mar residents. That's because at their recent December 15th meeting, the Del Mar City Council decided to allow local property owners to take advantage of the statewide Property Assessed Clean Energy program.
The program, commonly referred to as PACE, gives homeowners the ability to finance energy-efficient improvements and then repay them over a term of five to twenty-five years. The loan payments are added to a property's bill in the form of a special assessment or lien, and are collected alongside the property owner's standard tax assessment.
Acceptable uses of PACE funds include more than 150,000 different products that are aimed at reducing energy and water consumption. Among some of the most popular upgrades are energy-efficient appliances, water heaters, windows, solar energy systems, and reduced-water toilets.
PACE loans carry interest rates that range from 6.75 – 8.00%, depending on the length of financing. When a property that carries a PACE special assessment or lien is sold, the remaining loan balance is transferred to the new owner. Since these loans are not underwritten or funded by the city, Del Mar will have no liability when it comes to payment problems.
It's not just homeowners who will have the opportunity to benefit from the city's membership in the PACE program – area businesses will also be able to fund green improvements through their tax bills. In fact, there are three different financing programs that are part of PACE, each designed to meet different needs within the community.
1. CaliforniaFIRST – Designed for both residential and commercial properties, CaliforniaFIRST provides financing for up to twenty years on energy- and water-saving improvements.
2. Home Energy Retrofit Opportunity (HERO) – Exclusively for residential properties, HERO makes it easy for homeowners to finance their upgrades with little or no upfront costs.
3. FigTree – With a focus on commercial and multi-family residential properties, FigTree financing will give area business owners and investors the ability to modernize energy-wasting properties while maintaining a healthy cash flow. FigTree financing will be available locally in February.
For many property owners, Del Mar's entrance into the PACE program is long overdue. The city originally voted to take part in CaliforniaFirst way back in March 2010, but those plans were put on hold after objections were raised by the Federal Housing Finance Agency pertaining to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans.
With those issues resolved, Del Mar becomes the last city in San Diego County to officially join the PACE program. Nearby Solana Beach began taking part in the HERO program last February.