California legislation to fund critical seismic retrofit upgrades through PACE financing

by Brianna Crandall — November 2, 2016 — In what it calls a pivotal win for consumers and the PACE industry, Ygrene Energy Fund announced in October that California Governor Jerry Brown has signed state bill AB 2618, to usher in statewide seismic retrofit financing. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), will expand access to seismic retrofit financing under California’s foremost climate and energy financing mechanism (PACE) and will go into effect January 1, 2017, leading the way for other states that want to support sustainability retrofits of various types.

Assemblymember Nazarian stated:

The tragedy we have witnessed in Italy from earthquake-vulnerable buildings is an urgent reminder that we must do everything possible to seismically protect property and save lives. AB 2618 will bring parity to all types of PACE programs and provide Californians with a greater number of options to affordably finance life-saving seismic safety improvements to their homes.

Named one of the top 20 “world-changing” ideas by Scientific American magazine, PACE (property assessed clean energy) financing is a simple and effective way to pay for a wide range of energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades to buildings, according to the Ygrene Web site. Payments are made through a special tax added to the property’s tax bill and repaid with terms of up to 30 years. PACE financing may transfer with the property upon sale and may have tax benefits to the property owner. State and local governments sponsor PACE financing for various reasons.

Through AB 2618, seismic strengthening improvements such as external post-tensioning, base isolation, and supplementary dampers will be covered under California’s principal PACE-enabling legislation, SB 555. For at-risk homes and communities, this legislation is expected to unlock millions in financing to support California’s sustainability against seismic threats.

Ygrene Energy Fund provides residential, multifamily, and commercial property assessed clean energy financing. The award-winning, privately funded YgreneWorks program provides immediately accessible financing with no upfront payments for energy efficiency, renewables, and, in certain areas, water conservation, hurricane protection, electric vehicle charging stations and seismic retrofit projects. Ygrene says it is committed to making it easy for property owners to invest in their future and a healthier environment, including providing critical resiliency retrofits for Californians.

To date, the YgreneWorks program has been approved in 305 communities and has completed more than $633 million in contracts nationally, producing more than $1.3 billion in economic stimulus, 8,150 jobs and 34 megawatts of solar installed, says the company. Together these projects have reportedly saved 2.3 billion gallons of water and enough energy to power 537,036 homes for a full year, while also keeping 652,000 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, says the company.