By Tyler Michael, Sales Manager/Southern California
HelioPower Solar Inc.
Recently, I read an article in the local paper about the Western Riverside Council of Government’s (WRCOG) new Home Energy Renovation Opportunity Program (HERO). As a long-time professional in the solar industry, I was delighted to see that many of the former obstacles that made similar programs in other regions fail have been overcome.
What I did find disturbing was the amount of misinformation stated in the comments some readers had made online. Contrary to what the critics claim HERO is not a big-government program subsidized by taxpayers. If it were, my political leanings would make me against it. I’d like to take a little time to shed some light on what this program is really all about.
Let’s start from the beginning:
HERO allows homeowners to borrow money to purchase solar power, energy-efficient windows or high-efficiency air-conditioning and other products and to pay off those loans using an additional line-item on their property tax bill. The payments are tax-deductible, which means you can borrow the money, and then write off the payments… SWEET! It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that the property owner wins big time.
It was all made possible by WRCOG through AB 811, see: http://www.californiagreensolutions.com/cgi-bin/gt/tpl.h,content=2767&?utm_medium=calgreen&utm_source=section&utm_term=change+management+energy+ab811
Beyond that, here’s what makes this WRCOG HERO program such a win-win:
1) Unlike other attempts to do this type of program using public funds, the designers of HERO are not using our precious tax dollars! They figured out that this is an attractive program for private money – shrewd investors who know when a business plan makes sense. Imagine that! A government program that uses private money, instead of my hard-earned tax dollars. Win!
2) When a property owner takes advantage of this program, there is no second mortgage or other loan tied to his or her credit report. In fact, no credit scoring is involved with HERO. All the applicant needs is 10 percent equity in his or her home, no recent history of bankruptcy and a few other conditions. Because the loan is attached to the property, it shows up as one of several existing “line items” on the homeowner’s property tax bill, and it can be transferred to the home’s next owner should the property be sold before the loan is paid off. Too simple for words, except one: “Win” again.
3) Unlike previous attempts by other government entities to implement similar programs in California, WRCOG’s HERO allows the homeowner to choose one, all, or any combination of improvements instead of dictating to the homeowner which improvements are necessary. If you want solar and a high-efficiency pool pump – but you don’t care to re-insulate or buy expensive windows – the choice is entirely up to you as long as you use certified products that actually improve the energy profile of your home. Remember that every improvement you make that cuts your energy use means less of your precious income you are paying to your beloved utility…Wow! Another WIN!
4) Next, these improvements are done by local contractors like the one I work for. That helps to stimulate the local economy. Local businesses hire more residents who pay taxes on their earnings and spend on local goods and services. Gee. Another WIN.
5) Local positive effects of this program micro down to the neighborhood level. Energy improvements increase the value of your home, which in turn will progressively increase the property values of your neighborhood. One could also make the argument that doing the right thing for your family’s budget and the air quality of the community are tangible “WIN” benefits of the HERO program as well.
There are more facts that make this an attractive program, but I know that sometimes less is more when writing.
The only unfortunate part about the HERO program is that it is limited to a specific geographic region, at least for now. WRCOG is attempting to partner with other agencies in order to expand the program beyond western Riverside County. To find out what parts of the region are currently served by the program, visit our HERO Solar Program or this page and click on “Check your property address.”
If you would like to know more, I am happy to answer your questions. Please email me at [email protected] or call me at 619-888-0122 or 877-765-2788 (1-87-SOLAR-888).