Launching in 14 counties and 126 cities across the state, CaliforniaFIRST is the nation’s largest Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The innovative public-private partnership will cover some of the state’s most populous areas, including Silicon Valley, San Diego County and Sacramento County. Capital providers such as Clean Fund, Structured Finance Associates, Abundant Capital and Wells Fargo have pledged more than $250 million in capital to finance commercial PACE projects in California. Property owners can either make an arrangement with their own lender or contact CaliforniaFIRST program staff to seek competing financing offers from lenders.
CaliforniaFIRST joins existing open market commercial PACE programs in Los Angeles County, San Francisco City & County, and Sonoma County – creating a market that covers more than two-thirds of California’s population. Like other open market commercial PACE programs, CaliforniaFIRST requires that the property owner obtain the affirmative acknowledgement from their primary mortgage lender before the placement of a PACE lien on the property.
CaliforniaFIRST has no “loading order” requirement, i.e., property owners are not required to conduct energy efficiency work prior to installation of solar PV. For energy efficiency projects, the program requires an ASHRAE Level II audit, or comparable analysis. The CaliforniaFIRST program is administered by Oakland-based Renewable Funding. Founded in 2008, Renewable Funding innovated the PACE model when it launched and ran the Berkeley PACE program. The firm also administers San Francisco’s GreenFinanceSF commercial PACE program and developed and maintains the Energy Upgrade California web portal.
CaliforniaFIRST is a program of California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA), California’s largest joint powers authority, which is sponsored by the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. Its mission is to provide local governments access to low-cost financing for projects that provide a tangible public benefit, contribute to social and economic growth, and improve the overall quality of life in local communities. CSCDA currently has over 500 local government members. Additional cities and counties may be added to the program through a formal resolution with the local government and must be members of CSCDA.
CSCDA does not plan to launch a residential program until the regulatory issues with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have been resolved. The CaliforniaFIRST program completed judicial validation and is prepared to begin a residential program quickly, if the regulatory issues with FHFA are resolved.
*This story was written by Renewable Funding as a guest writer for PACENow.