Lemon Grove's council recently agreed to become an associate member of the Western Riverside Council of Governments and a participant in the California HERO Program, which entitles residents to funding so that may make their home energy efficient.
HERO, short for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, gives qualified applicants a chance to install solar panels, devices that use Wind, and Geothermal Heat Pumps.
The council voted unanimously to become a part of the council of governments at the Oct. 1 meeting. Staff presented the proposal that included the following of benefits for residents:
- Eligibility: In today’s economic environment, alternatives for property owners to finance renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency improvements, or electric vehicle charging infrastructure may not be available. As such, many property owners do not have financing options available that would provide funding for improvements that lower their utility bills.
- Savings: Energy prices continue to rise and participating in energy efficient, water efficient, and renewable energy improvements may reduce utility bills.
- 100 Percent Voluntary: Property owners can choose to participate in the program at their discretion. Improvements and properties must meet eligibility criteria in order to qualify for financing.
- Payment Obligation Stays with the Property: Under Chapter 29, a voluntary contractual assessment stays with the property upon transfer of ownership. Certain residential conforming mortgage providers will, however, require the assessment be paid off at the time the property is refinanced or sold.
- Prepayment Option: The property owner can choose to pay off the assessments at any time, subject to applicable prepayment penalties.
According to the staff report, the program could help the city through:
- An increase in property values, as energy efficient homes and buildings have higher values.
- As in conventional assessment financing, the City is not obligated to repay the bonds or to pay any delinquent assessments levied on the participating properties.
- All California HERO Program and assessment administration, bond issuance and bond administration functions are handled by California HERO. Minimal City staff time is needed to participate in the California HERO Program.
- By leveraging the already successful HERO Program, the City can offer this financing option to property owners more quickly, easily, and much less inexpensive than establishing a new local program.
The final vote was 4-0 with the mayor absent from that night’s meeting.