WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Owners of nearly half a million homes across Palm Beach County now have access to an innovative form of financing called HERO, which empowers them to make residential energy, efficiency and wind-resistance improvements and pay for the upgrades over time through a voluntary additional assessment on their property tax bill. Eligible improvements include solar panels, energy-efficient HVAC systems, roofing and windows, roof-to-wall connections, storm shutters and other products that can protect against wind damage and meet or exceed Florida Building Code requirements.
HERO, a public-private partnership between the Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC) and Renovate America, is the nation's largest Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, financing program. The launch of HERO throughout most of Palm Beach County is expected to bring multiple benefits to the community and to individual homeowners. With the availability of HERO financing, local contractors should see greater demand for home energy and resiliency projects, providing a boost to small businesses. That in turn will create new jobs in the construction and installation sector—jobs that can't be outsourced or automated. For homeowners, the products eligible for PACE financing can lower utility bills or insurance premiums, while making homes safer and more comfortable.
HERO is now available to homeowners in unincorporated parts of Palm Beach County as well as dozens of cities and towns including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Clarke Shores, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and Wellington. HERO financing also launched this week in Cape Canaveral.
"PACE financing programs are an effective tool for homeowners to make smart energy improvements to their residences," said Natalie Schneider, Climate Change and Sustainability Coordinator for Palm Beach County. "And in Florida, PACE can also be used to finance wind-resistant upgrades to help homes withstand the brunt of hurricanes."
HERO financing offers fixed interest rates ranging from 3.49%-7.99%. In addition to being the lowest interest rates in the PACE industry today, these can be competitive with home equity loans and are typically lower than credit cards. HERO also comes with the highest level of consumer protection in the PACE industry, including safeguards like live telephone calls to confirm financing terms with homeowners and a guarantee that contractors don't get paid until homeowners certify that a project is done to their satisfaction. HERO also uses a data-driven contractor quality rating system that tracks customer satisfaction and removes contractors that don't maintain good ratings.
"With HERO, communities across Florida are giving homeowners access to the lowest interest rates and strongest protections in the PACE industry today," said Ari Matusiak, Executive Vice President of Market Development and External Affairs at Renovate America. "Floridians not only have a new way to go solar, protect their families from storms, or replace a broken HVAC in the middle of the summer, they are also getting a public-private partnership that is helping to improve the entire home improvement industry."
HERO funds up to 100 percent of the home improvement, while the term of the financing is based on the useful life of the product, up to 25 years, spreading out the cost over time. The interest on the financing may be tax-deductible, and the HERO assessment may be able to transfer to a new owner if the home is sold. The improvements eligible for PACE financing like HERO may also improve the value of a home. A recent study showed homes with PACE-financed improvements recovered 100% or more of the investment at the time of resale.
"Floridians are looking for ways to save energy and protect their homes, but many lack access to affordable financing to make the improvements they need to get there," said Bill Spivey, Executive Director of the Florida Development Finance Corporation. "PACE is a financing option that empowers homeowners to invest in hurricane-resiliency, energy-efficiency and sustainability improvements to their properties. It boosts small businesses through increased sales and job creation while providing grass roots economic development for local governments at no cost to local government budgets. It's a true win-win for Florida."
About Renovate America Renovate America offers a tech-enabled financing platform for home improvement and commercial retrofits that empowers communities to modernize and make their housing stock more efficient, while giving small businesses the tools they need to grow. In addition to financing home improvements through an unsecured lending product, Benji, Renovate America offers communities HERO financing. HERO is the leading residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in the U.S. and has been used by over 100,000 homes to make energy and efficiency improvements. It is estimated that HERO is on track to save billions of dollars in energy and water bills, and has created over 20,000 local trade jobs that cannot be offshored or automated. Renovate America has built the world's largest 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 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.