New financing mechanism enables homeowners to go solar, replace windows and doors, upgrade HVAC and more – while boosting local economy
ST. CHARLES, Missouri, Nov. 29 – St. Charles County residents will soon have access to the HERO Program, the nation’s largest form of residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. HERO, which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, will enable property owners in St. Charles County to make energy efficiency and renewable energy home improvements and to pay for them over time at a fixed interest rate through their property taxes.
HERO was approved in St. Charles County when members of the County Council voted at their meeting Monday, Nov. 28, to join the Missouri Clean Energy District (MCED). Earlier this year, the cities of O’Fallon, St. Charles, St. Peters, Wentzville, Dardenne Prairie and Cottleville joined MCED, giving their residents access to HERO.
"Tens of thousands of homeowners across St. Charles County will soon have access to the HERO Program, and that’s great news," said St. Charles County Council Member Mike Elam. "Many homeowners who use the HERO Program to finance clean-energy home improvements see immediate savings on their utility bills. And by stimulating home renovation activity, the HERO Program increases demand for contractor services and boosts the local economy – all at no cost to government budgets."
Renovate America, the company that partners with MCED to offer the HERO Program, projects that more than 1,000 homeowners in St. Charles County could use the program over the next five years – saving more than 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, creating more than 200 jobs and stimulating the local economy by nearly $40 million.
"The HERO Program will offer homeowners in St. Charles County a useful new tool to lower utility bills and enhance residential comfort through home energy improvements such as new windows and doors, HVAC systems, and even rooftop solar" said Stephen Beckmann, system specialist with Jerry Kelly Heating & Cooling. "The arrival of HERO in our county has the prospect to be a game-changer for our customers and our business."
A New Form of Financing for Home Improvements
The HERO Program addresses a problem conventional financing products have not solved. Each year, one in six homeowners replaces a system in the home that affects energy consumption. Most of the time, they choose 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. HERO only finances efficient solutions, and converts 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; HERO interest rates are fixed and competitive with other options; the term of the financing is based on the useful life of the product, up to 20 years, spreading costs out over time; and HERO keeps other existing credit sources available to help meet goals and emergencies. Moreover, interest on HERO payments may be tax-deductible, and the upgrades themselves may increase home values.
Highest Level of Consumer Protections in Home Improvement Industry
Renovate America manages the HERO Program in close partnership with the cities and counties that adopt the financing tool. Because of the nature of the public-private partnership, HERO financing includes additional requirements to protect consumers not found in other payment options like credit cards or home equity loans. For example, the HERO program will only pay a contractor after the homeowner signs off that the job has been completed to their satisfaction. Contractors must be in good standing with HERO; products and labor must meet competitive pricing standards; and homeowners select from products certified as efficient by local, state and federal government authorities.
Creating Local Jobs, Improving Home Efficiency
Missouri is on the leading edge of states making HERO available to residential property owners: the program launched in September in Jackson County – the first HERO market outside of California, where the program has financed more than $1.8 billion in home energy and efficiency improvements across more than 75,000 homes. Renovate America estimates that homeowners will see over $3 billion in utility-bill savings over the lifetime of the products installed to date using HERO financing.
"We’re excited to partner with officials and contractors in St. Charles County to make energy improvements more accessible and affordable for property owners while enhancing local economic growth," said John Maslowski, Vice President of Market Development, Missouri, for Renovate America.
Homeowners interested in applying for HERO financing or who wish to learn more should visit www.heroprogram.com. Contractors interested in offering HERO financing can register at https://register.renovateamerica.com/.
About Renovate America
Renovate America has built a tech-enabled market platform for home improvement and commercial retrofits, and partners with state and local governments to offer communities the HERO Program. HERO is the leading residential Property Assessed Clean Energy program in the U.S. and has financed $2 billion of home improvements. HERO is on track to save its customers more than $3 billion in energy and water bills, and has created nearly 17,000 clean-energy jobs. 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. Renovate America has the world’s first green bond platform, with a volume of originations that enables securitization of HERO PACE bonds multiple times a year, attracting international investment to meet U.S. clean energy objectives.
About Missouri Clean Energy District
The Missouri Clean Energy District is a statewide political subdivision established to provide unlimited capital to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through PACE financing. Property owners – both public and private – in member communities may apply for PACE financing for energy-saving upgrades and retrofits to their property. Missouri communities may join the District to make funding available to all property owners within their jurisdiction. There is no membership cost to local governments and no fiscal risk, because no public funds are used for financing.