PACE in Mendocino County is being modeled after similar programs established in cities and counties nationwide.
Nearby, in Sonoma County, more than 2,000 PACE-funded projects have been completed, most of them for residential housing.
Mendocino County’s PACE program will be available for both homeowners and business owners, and will be developed and run by the same third party administrator that runs the Sonoma County PACE program: Ygrene Energy Fund, whose nationwide headquarters are based in Santa Rosa, California.
According to the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program: PACE provides “an opportunity for property owners to finance energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy generation improvements through a voluntary assessment. These assessments will be attached to the property, not the owner, and will be paid back through the property tax system over time, making the program not only energy efficient but also affordable.”
Let’s consider this hypothetical example: the Reyes family owns a two story home in rural Mendocino County. They are concerned about their high energy bills and the difficulty they have in keeping their home warm during the winter. In the midst of the drought, they worry that their well is running low, and wonder if they have leaking pipes. They wonder how to make their home more energy and water efficient. They wonder if their home would be a good place for solar power.
Mendocino County’s PACE program, as proposed to the Board of Supervisors by Ygrene, and as being developed now, would provide the Reyes family with good information and referrals to contractors who understand the PACE program, who will come out to the Reyes’ home to evaluate their energy use and provide proposals for ways they can improve water conservation and energy efficiency.
Once the Reyes family decides which improvements they want to implement, they canvoluntarily opt-in to participate in the PACE program, applying through the local PACE office to levy a self-assessment to pay for the improvements. The local PACE office provides guidance, helping the Reyes family to understand their options, and to complete an application for the PACE program.
By participating in the PACE program, the Reyes family is able to improve their home’s water conservation and energy efficiency. These improvements result in a decrease in their energy bills, and save their well from running dry during the summer, which saves them the cost and headache of having to drill a deeper well.
With lower home energy bills, and a more sustainable water supply, the Reyes home is now a more affordable, and comfortable, place to live.
Unlike a loan, PACE is a property tax self-assessment, attached to the property, which the Reyes family agrees to pay back over time, through a voluntary increase in their property tax bill.
If the Reyes family decides to sell their home, they will need to tell the purchaser about the assessment, which stays attached to the home’s property tax assessment, and thus is taken over by the new homeowner.