The Golden State is committed to a green economy to help us to transition away from fossil fuels. Assembly Bill 32 set clear goals curbing greenhouse gas emissions. And AB 811 made financing for solar panels and other energy-efficiency upgrades available to homeowners throughout the state.
An effort by the banking industry is aimed at “reforming” that financing (“Solar panel loans have spun out of control,” Viewpoints, May 4).
The industry’s AB 2693, set for a joint hearing Thursday before the Assembly Banking and Local Government committees, could make it even better. But it could also undermine its significant benefits. The Legislature must not let that happen.
This financing, known as PACE, lets homeowners pay for energy-efficiency improvements through their property taxes. California communities know the critical role that PACE plays in local efforts to meet state efficiency mandates.
Significantly, local governments have worked with the PACE financing industry to ensure homeowners understand how it works and invest in products that will actually reduce their demand for water and energy. Consumer protections include ensuring that all installed products meet government standards, and delaying payment to contractors until work is completed to their satisfaction.
Homes that have efficient appliances use less water and energy and keep utility bills lower. Recent studies also show that these homes bring higher prices and find willing buyers more quickly. PACE helps to raise property values, which is good for local governments and for the real estate industry.
Even before “for sale” signs go up, PACE stimulates demand for quality construction jobs, an estimated 12,000 statewide since 2008.
I urge the Legislature to proceed with caution when tinkering with one of the strongest energy-efficiency tools available and already in place in more than 400 California municipalities.
Kate Meis is executive director of the Local Government Commission. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.