SLO County institutes new clean-energy program

San Luis Obispo County has joined 361 other communities in the state by enacting a Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

The PACE program is a financing mechanism that allows property owners to finance renewable energy and water-efficiency projects by adding the cost as an assessment to the property tax bill, said Jon Griesser, a supervising county planner in a staff report.

“This mechanism eliminates upfront costs and allows repayment to be made over a long time frame — typically from five to 20 years,” he said.

County supervisors recently passed a resolution creating the program. Property owners can begin submitting applications for the program early next year.

Most of San Luis Obispo County’s neighboring counties already have a PACE program in place. These include Monterey, Fresno, Kern and Kings counties.

A variety of energy-saving products are available through the program, including solar power panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling systems, energy-saving windows and doors, and roofing and insulation.

The program also has a variety of products to help homeowners save water, including high-efficiency toilets, faucets and shower heads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; gray water systems; and artificial turf or drought-tolerant landscaping.

“This home-efficiency program will benefit our county and our region,” said county Supervisor Debbie Arnold. “Participating homeowners will save on utility bills and make their homes more comfortable; local contractors can staff-up to meet the demand; and the environment benefits through reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased water conservation.”

Enacting the program does not cost the county any money, Griesser said. “All administrative costs are intrinsic to the program and included in the property owner’s voluntary contractual assessment,” he said.

The program began in December 2011. Since then, backers of the program say it has helped fund residential efficiency projects in more than 45,000 households in California, totaling more than $1.02 billion in financing.

For more information about the PACE program, visit www.heroprogram.com.