Category: "AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding"

05/25/10

  04:16:43 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 269 words  
Categories: AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding

Report from Public Hearing on LACEP - the AB 811 Program for LA County

Today the LA County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the creation of the LA County Energy Program (LACEP) which provides for AB 811 financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  Four people spoke in favor of the Program including: Tammy Schwolsky (Founder & CEO of REAS which provides energy audits and green building consulting), Holly Schroeder (CEO of the Building Industry Association of Southern California), Kara Seward (Field Representative for State Senator Fran Pavley), and Run on Sun Founder & CEO, Jim Jenal.  No one spoke in opposition.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky offered a friendly amendment calling on staff to work with the contractor community to address the concerns that we have been raising these past few months.  Noted Yaroslavsky’s amendment:

We have heard from local contractors and business owners on a range of topics that include licensing requirements for participating contractors; the mechanism and timing of disbursing loans to homeowners (for example, should payments be made as one lump sum or in multiple installments, and should the payments be disbursed to homeowners before or after work is completed); and, concern over the interest rate that will be charged to participating property owners.

(Frankly, the only concern of ours that was omitted from that list was the high equity requirement in the program that we believe will exclude many otherwise qualified and eager participants.)

Yaroslavsky’s amendment requires the Director of Internal Services (the folks designing the Program) to meet with interested local contractors and other appropriate business owners within the next three weeks to work on these issues.   We will keep you posted as those meetings occur.

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05/24/10

  11:18:54 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 55 words  
Categories: AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding

Prepared Comments for Public Hearing on AB 811 Program in LA

I will be speaking tomorrow at the public hearing on the adoption of LA County’s AB 811 funding program, known as LACEP (for LA County Energy Program).  I will report on the hearing later on Tuesday, but for now, here is a copy of my prepared remarks.  Hope to see many of you downtown tomorrow morning.

05/08/10

  01:29:57 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 790 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, LA Renewable Energy Society (LARES), Solar News, AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding, NABCEP

Report from May 5th Stakeholders Meeting

LA County held a Stakeholders Meeting on May 5 to discuss the present state of development for the LA County Energy Program.  The vast majority of the two hour presentation was focused on energy efficiency measures and how those will be developed and deployed.  Only secondarily was support for solar installations mentioned.  Our report on the meeting follows the break.

This meeting, like the previous Stakeholders Meeting last December (read about it here), was held in the Board Meeting Room at MTA headquarters.  While there were a number of solar industry folks on hand - notably Zoe Starr (head of the LA Renewable Energy Society), Ron Mulick (President, SoCalSEIA) and Joia Gibble (LARES member) - the majority of the audience either came from the Cities or from the building efficiency industry - notably Dan Thomsen (President & Founder, The Building Doctors).  The presentation reflected that audience, focusing on how the LA County Energy Program will pull together many different programs and rebates around home retrofits and efficiency upgrades, with AB 811 funding being merely a part of that equation, and support for solar an even smaller part.

This distinction between the energy efficiency aspects of the program compared to the energy generation portion was never more apparent than in the discussion of consumer protection and the need for contractor credentialing.  Indeed, contractors looking to work in the energy efficiency sector must have at a minimum a BPI Building Analyst certification, while additional credentials, such as being a HERS II Whole House Energy Rater will be required for other aspects of the energy efficiency program.  What about contractors doing solar power installations?  What credentials must they have?  "Only those required by the California Solar Initiative” was the response.  When it was pointed out that the only requirement for being listed under CSI was to send your contact information in to the website, the consultants designing the system simply looked blankly back and observed that they really had not thought of that issue.  How can that be?  After all, energy efficiency measures are small potatoes, dollars wise, compared to solar installations, and yet the folks designing the Program have way more to say about contractors doing efficiency work than those installing solar?  Where are the consumer protections there?  In side conversations after the meeting it was stressed that the program should consider requiring NABCEP Certification for all contractors who are participating.  Such a requirement would protect consumers from shoddy workmanship and help raise the professional standards of the solar installer industry in LA County - a win-win situation to be sure.

Some additional details that emerged from this meeting:

  • Eligibility criteria - the criteria for qualifying for AB 811 funding (or PACE funding [for Property-Assessed Clean Energy] as it is more generally known) are coming into focus, and some consumers will be left behind.  Here is what we know now:
    • Funding applicant must be the owner on the title; if multiple owners, all must join the application;
    • Single family or multi-family housing (up to 4 units) only at this time;
    • Property must not be subject to any involuntary liens;
    • No delinquency on property taxes in the past five years;
    • Must be current on mortgage payments;
    • Loan to property value must not exceed 10%;
    • Debt to property value must not exceed 80%.

It is that last criteria that we anticipate excluding the most potential participants.  Given the steep drop in property values since the LA County peak in 2006 and the time it takes to build equity in a home through mortgage payments, our calculations indicate that anyone who purchased their home after 2002 will be excluded on this basis.

  • Interest rates - at present, they are anticipating 8-9% at the outset of the program.  Although aware of SB 77 recently signed by the Governor, the speakers were unable to assess what impact, if any, that bill would have on program interest rates.

In any event, it is now clear that what will be presented to the County Board of Supervisors on May 25 will be a framework and nothing more.  Assuming passage on the 25th, the program staff will continue to work out the details while the validation lawsuit proceeds.  If all goes well, the first loans are expected to be provided sometime in September.

Thus, the LA County Energy Program remains very much a work in progress.  Will high interest rates and overly restrictive participation criteria doom the program to failure?  Will a lack of proper solar installer credentialing allow for shoddy work and unhappy consumers?  Will a failure to provide timely progress payments on solar jobs exclude small business owners - even those with the most sterling credentials like Run on Sun - to the benefit of the VC-funded national players?  Or will the Program achieve its potential to usher in a new wave of green jobs and greener homes?

04/28/10

  06:44:34 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 191 words  
Categories: AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding

Stakeholder Meeting for AB 811 - Last Chance for Meaningful Input?

There will be a final AB 811 Stakeholder’s Meeting on Wednesday, May 5 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the MTA Board Room (located next to Union Station, downtown Los Angeles, map here).  This will be the last opportunity to provide meaningful input to County staff and their consultants before the Board meeting on May 25.  This is a stakeholder’s meeting - if you care about the future of solar in Los Angeles County, you have a stake in the outcome of this meeting and you should be there.  (You can read our report from the December Stakeholder’s Meeting, here.)

Many questions remain about how this program will be implemented and the answers to those questions will determine whether this program is a great success, or a millstone weighing down the local solar industry.  At that meeting we expect to be hearing about what the bond interest rates will be, the impact of the recently passed SB 77 on lowering those interest rates, how much and how easily interim funding will be, how credit will be determined for previous homeowner efforts at energy efficiency, and more.  When documents are distributed, we will update this thread to include them.

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04/19/10

  06:23:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 209 words  
Categories: AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding

City Adoption Toolkit now available for LACEP - the LA County AB 811 Program

The County of Los Angeles has released the “City Adoption Toolkit” as part of its build-up to the public hearing on adoption of the Los Angeles County Energy Program (LACEP),  the working name for the County’s AB 811 program that we have been writing about for several months now.  The Toolkit provides a number of resources for Cities to use, including a draft Resolution, a set of FAQs and a Presentation outlining many of the Program’s features.

As a reminder, the LA County Board of Supervisors will be holding the public hearing on LACEP on May 25 (read about that here).  Assuming that the Program is approved at that time, the Cities in the County will be able to opt-in by adopting a Resolution along the lines of the one published here.

Your city’s City Manager should have received all of this information directly, so now would be a great time to ask your City Manager where your city stands on participating.  The more cities participate, the broader the applicability of the program and the more pressure we can bring to bear on the County to get the Program right!  You can visit the new LACEP website to sign-up for updates from the County.

As always, we welcome your (non-spam!) comments.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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