Need Help Financing a Solar Energy System in San Diego? Try a Property Assessed Clean Energy Program

The U.S. Department of Energy is aggressively pursuing the use of renewable energy throughout the country by creating programs that make it easy for Americans to go green. One of the government’s recent initiatives is the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which aims to financially support home and business owners who use renewable forms of energy or improve their energy efficiency.

PACE programs vary all around the U.S., and one of the first initiatives to pop up is CaliforniaFIRST, a government-supported PACE program that seeks to fund properties that use renewable energy and implement water and energy efficiency improvements. The program is applicable to residential units, commercial establishments, and industrial properties within the state of California. The program is backed by Renew Financial, a financing company based in Oakland that funds clean energy projects. As with similar PACE programs in the country, CaliforniaFIRST wants home and business owners to enjoy lower utility bills and an increase in property value.

What’s great about this program is that you don’t have to shell out anything to start the improvements. CaliforniaFIRST offers 100 percent upfront financing. The financed amount may be repaid on property taxes for up to 25 years, and it will not appear on your credit report. In short, you’re borrowing money for energy efficiency improvements and use of renewable energy without worrying about its negative impact on your debt-to-income ratio. In case you want to sell the property, the repayment scheme may be transferred to the next property owner.

The program consists of a simple five-step process:

  • Apply: You may sign up as a homeowner through the program’s application page, or by calling 888-906-1289. Also check out their dedicated information pages for commercial projects and communities.
  • Sign: Fill up the application form and accomplish all required financial documents electronically.
  • Install: Once you have selected a CaliforniaFIRST contractor, you may start implementing the property improvements.
  • Receive: You don’t have to worry about paying the contractor, because CaliforniaFIRST will handle all of the payments.
  • Repay: Repayments are arranged annually on your property taxes through flexible terms of up to 25 years.

PACE programs are already implemented in 31 U.S. states (including the District of Columbia), with more states following suit.

[Photo courtesy of Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon on Flickr]