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Financing for clean energy projects approved

CARLSBAD — Two new for-profit corporations will help with upfront financing for renewable energy as well as energy and water efficiency charging infrastructure projects in Carlsbad. 

Thanks to Assembly Bill 811 signed in 2008, cities and counties in California are able to establish programs with outside companies to finance environmentally beneficial energy and water projects through property taxes. These projects are referred to as PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs.

“PACE financing reduces one of the barriers that prevents people from doing energy conservation, water conservation, or renewable energy projects,” said Senior Planner Mike Grim.

Two such companies, California HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) and Figtree PACE, applied to provide such financing for projects in the city and were presented to council at its Dec. 3 meeting.

Grim explained that the law views projects such as solar panels and electric car charging stations just as beneficial to an area as other infrastructure like roads and traffic lights. Such projects can benefit the environment, create jobs and increase property values. These advantages stand even if the project is built on private property as part of a home or business.

AB 811 creates a means for companies to provide financing to pay for the initial costs of installing these expensive projects and have that financing gradually paid off by nearby property owners through property taxes over the years. This is done at no cost to the city or county.

“In essence, we’re trying to encourage the expansion of those types of opportunities,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mark Packard, referring to the electric vehicle charging stations that were recently installed at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets.

Without discussion, City Council unanimously approved both companies.