In response to the ongoing drought, Richmond has become the latest California city to launch a low-interest financing program that allows homeowners to use their property tax bill to pay for improvements to energy and water efficiencies, according to Mayor Tom Butt’s office.
This week, the city’s council joined five other municipalities in Contra Costa County to implement the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. Six other cities in the county, including San Pablo, have launched the program since November and more cities such as El Cerrito intend to join this fall as jurisdictions search for creative ways to cut back on water use.
HERO Pace financing offers loan repayment plans from 5 to 20 years with tax-deductible interest for projects that will provide immediate savings on utility bills, according to the mayor’s office. Without putting money down, homeowners can launch retrofits such as high-efficiency toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; and artificial turf and drought-tolerant landscaping.
Such upgrades should be particularly appealing given the state’s required 25-percent reduction of urban water consumption, Butt said.
“Every community in California, including Richmond, is under pressure to use significantly less water,” the mayor said in a statement.
Along with water efficiency upgrades, a wide variety of energy-saving improvements can be financed including solar panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling systems, energy-saving windows and doors, roofing and insulation.
Since December 2011, more than 5,500 jobs in California were created by the increase in demand for retrofits resulting from the program, which has helped fund more than 33,000 residential efficiency projects totaling more than $650 million in financing. The projects combined have saved 790 million gallons of water — enough for about 25 million showers — and saved enough energy to power 28,000 homes in a year, according to the mayor’s statement.