City of Visalia may dump solar finance program

Is it the role of government to be the go between  a lender and a borrower?  Of course not. But, many town, like Visalia are trying to force people into using solar panels and help “arrange” the financing.  While the city claims it costs the taxpayers no money, that is a lie.  There are city employees, office space, phones and other assets used — all costing tax dollars.

“With a council vote expected in next few weeks, this would be the second time since 2017 that there has been an effort to end participation in the program despite the fact that it costs the city nothing. That year the program was allowed to continue after a hotly contested debate, on a 3 to 2 council vote with Mayor Warren Guebler casting the decisive vote. Guebler has now retired and his seat is occupied by Poochigian.

Brain Poochigin said he opposes PACE because”the city should not be in the business of endorsing a program” and the end of PACE  would still mean ’there are lots of other programs people can sign up for.”

In coming weeks a majority of the council is expected to vote against the program that has made it possible for 528 home owners in Visalia to finance energy upgrades since 2014.

The program is popular across all of Tulare County where 1477 home owners have used the PACE program says tax collector Chief Deputy Paul Sampietro.”

Seriously, these folks needed the city to help them find financing?  PACE is just an excuse for letting government get into your business—and cost everyone money needed for law enforcement and real basic services.

PACE Program on the chopping block

City of Visalia may dump solar finance program

Some 528 Visalia owners have upgraded their homes

Sierra2the Sea, 4/16/19 

http://sierra2thesea.net/central-valley/pace-program-on-the-chopping-block

On the suggestion of council member Brian Poochigian the Visalia City Council is expected to rescind permission for home owners in the City to participate in the PACE program.

That would mean Visalians would not have the option to tap several financial institutions who offer money to upgrade homes for energy conservation and solar installation through PACE.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program is a voluntary funding program that enables property owners to finance the installation of renewable energy (like solar), energy efficiency and water efficiency improvements with little or no up-front costs. The financing is paid on property tax bills that are indexed to the useful life of the improvements up to 20 years. The program is used throughout California’s cities and counties.

With a council vote expected in next few weeks, this would be the second time since 2017 that there has been an effort to end participation in the program despite the fact that it costs the city nothing. That year the program was allowed to continue after a hotly contested debate, on a 3 to 2 council vote with Mayor Warren Guebler casting the decisive vote. Guebler has now retired and his seat is occupied by Poochigian.

Brain Poochigin said he opposes PACE because”the city should not be in the business of endorsing a program” and the end of PACE  would still mean ’there are lots of other programs people can sign up for.”

In coming weeks a majority of the council is expected to vote against the program that has made it possible for 528 home owners in Visalia to finance energy upgrades since 2014.

The program is popular across all of Tulare County where 1477 home owners have used the PACE program says tax collector Chief Deputy Paul Sampietro.

Supporters argue that by providing viable financing options to increase the number of rooftop solar systems and energy efficiency projects throughout California, PACE programs serve as an important mechanism to implement California’s energy, environmental and greenhouse gas policy goals. It also creates work for local contractors.

Visalia has a relatively high poverty rate of some 20% with about 25,000 owner-occupied homes. Supporters argue that the PACE program allows low to median income home owners to afford the benefits of solar. Some critics suggest the is exactly what is wrong with the program alleging that the PACE program harms many homeowners by making loans that people could not afford to repay. Instead of getting “green” homes, the plaintiffs may lose their homes to foreclosure.

Visalia has three authorized PACE programs: CaliforniaFirst was approved in March of 2013, and the California HERO program was authorized in May of 2014. These two are intended for residential installations.

Poochigian says the City will likely hold a public hearing on PACE at their first meeting in May.

Poochigian says he has heard complaints from people about PACE who told him “they did not know what they’re signing up for” and didn’t know they would have a lien on their house.

Local tax records show few if any foreclosures in Tulare County. In 2017 the affiliated HERO program had a 98.7 percent on-time repayment rate statewide, and the bank-initiated foreclosure rate on HERO homes was slightly below the California state average.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.