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Press Release
July 26, 2016

Leon County Approves Innovative Financing Program to Help Homeowners Reduce Utility Bills

New financing mechanism enables property owners to go solar, replace windows and doors, upgrade HVAC, make homes hurricane-resistant -- and pay for repairs over time

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, July 26 –Leon County has become the first county in Florida to approve giving residents access to the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. HERO, which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, is the nation’s leading form of residential PACE financing.

The HERO program will enable property owners in Leon County to make energy efficiency, renewable energy and wind-hardening home improvements and to pay for them over time at a fixed interest rate through their property taxes. HERO financing payments may have tax benefits, and many property owners who use HERO to finance home improvements see immediate savings on their utility bills.

"A program like this will lower utility bills, put people to work, raise property values, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. "We at Leon County have been working hard to make this program a reality. This will give Leon County homeowners an innovative new way to finance energy efficient upgrades while protecting our natural resources for generations to come."

At its meeting on July 12, the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, acting in the capacity of the Leon County Energy Improvement District (LCEID), authorized the option of PACE financing for all property owners within Leon County, including Tallahassee, by joining the Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC). The FDFC has initially partnered with Renovate America, the company that administers the HERO Program, to bring the most extensive experience in PACE financing and the most comprehensive consumer protections to make Florida more energy efficient and hurricane-resistant.

"Backed by industry-leading consumer protection standards, the HERO Program brings together the private sector with public policy goals at no cost to taxpayers," said FDFC PACE Program Manager Ryan Bartkus. "By becoming the first jurisdiction in Florida to open its doors to the HERO Program, Leon County together with the City of Tallahassee will enable tens of thousands of its residents to access a unique and powerful home improvement tool."

The HERO program is expected to formally launch in Florida later this year. Homeowners interested in bringing HERO to their area should visit: https://www.heroprogram.com/get-hero

Financing Home Improvements in a New Way

PACE is solving a marketplace failure that no other form of financing is solving at scale. Each year, about one in six American homeowners replaces a product or system in their home that affects the level of energy consumption. Three-quarters of the time, they select a less efficient option based on upfront sticker price, instead of factoring in the total cost of owning and maintaining the product or system over the course of its useful life.

By only financing products rated as efficient, and by attaching to the property, PACE financing tools like the HERO program convert the moment when a homeowner needs to replace or upgrade a failing system into an opportunity to upgrade a community’s housing stock.

HERO finances 100 percent of the home improvement, requiring no upfront cash outlay; the term of the financing is based on the useful life of the product, up to 20 years, spreading out costs over time; and HERO keeps other existing credit sources available to help meet goals and emergencies.

Bringing Consumer Protections to the Home Improvement Industry

As a partner with local government through FDFC, HERO financing includes additional requirements to protect consumers, protections not found in other payment options like credit cards or home equity loans. For example, contractors are only paid after the property owner signs off that the job has been completed to their satisfaction. Contractors are screened; all required permits must be submitted; and installed products must be certified as efficient by the U.S. Department of Energy or a stricter state or local standard.

Creating Local Jobs

Florida is on the leading edge of states making PACE financing available to both residential and commercial property owners. The PACE model got its start in California, where HERO has helped fund residential efficiency projects in more than 67,000 households, totaling $1.6 billion in financing. By stimulating home renovation activity, the HERO Program increases demand for local contractor services. HERO is estimated to have spurred the creation of more than 13,700 jobs in communities throughout California since December 2011. Cities and counties benefit through economic stimulus and local job growth while helping their communities reduce their energy use.

Saving Energy, Reducing Emissions, Meeting Public Goals

HERO works with local governments to enable voluntary energy retrofits.  Since the installed products are all rated with specific conservation potential, the savings of kWhs of energy, tons of carbon emissions, and dollars expended on utility bills can all be projected and publicly reported.

"The HERO Program partners with the public sector to help drive local economic and environmental impact through a network of contractors who can help consumers make a better choice at the moment they need to replace or upgrade a system or product in their home or business," said John Thomas, Renovate America’s Vice President for Market Development for the HERO Program in Florida.

For more information please visit www.HeroProgram.com.

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About Renovate America

Renovate America partners with state and local governments to offer HERO, a property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing program, to communities. HERO is the leading residential PACE program in the U.S. and has financed more than $1.6 billion of improvements. This unique public-private partnership offers consumers access to financing for more than 60 types of products that reduce energy and water consumption, without the need for government funding. The HERO Program has received a number of recognitions including a Climate Leadership Certificate for Innovative Partnerships by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, inclusion in the 2016 White House Water Summit, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in California, and the Urban Land Institute Best of the Best.

About the Florida Development Finance Corporation

The FDFC is a special development finance authority created by State Legislation under Chapter 288, Part X of the Florida Statues and formed as a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit corporation. Although not a State Agency, the FDFC is a state-wide conduit issuer that provides access to capital for project finance. Over the past 20 years, the FDFC has assisted over 90 Florida-based businesses to finance over $1.2 billion in tax-exempt & taxable bonds for qualified projects and borrowers. It will launch its residential PACE Program in 4Q2016 and its commercial PACE program in 1Q2017.