Summit County residents will soon be able to get financing for energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

Several local officials introduced the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) residential financing program during a news conference Thursday morning at The K Company’s HVAC Education Center on South Arlington Road.

"We are incredibly excited to be able to take this PACE financing to our neighborhoods, to our residents, to make these financing options available to them,” Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said. “It's something that is cost-effective and energy-effective and actually [will] be able to improve the quality of the homes in our community across, we hope, all 31 of them."

PACE financing is already in place for commercial projects in the county; it’s been used for the Cascade Plaza project in Akron, a Crystal Clinic facility in Bath Township and the Akron Rubber Development Laboratory in Barberton.

But once the residential side is up and running by the end of this year, residents will be able to apply for financing for projects like roofing, windows and doors, HVAC, furnace or insulation upgrades.

That should help increase residents’ property values, reduce their utility bills and save energy. Because local contractors do the work, it will also help create jobs, said Dustin Reilich, vice president of market development for California-based private lender Renovate America, the lender partner working with the Development Finance Authority of Summit County to finance the residential PACE program.

Through the program, property owners can finance the upfront costs of energy improvements by making a voluntary assessment on their tax bill and paying back the costs over time, said Rick Rebadow, vice president of business development for CAM Inc. and chair of the Akron-Summit County Energy Special Improvement District.

The cost of the project can’t be more than 20% of the total value of the property. Renovate America, the nation’s largest PACE provider, provides 100% financing using private dollars. No taxpayer or ratepayer money is used.

"We're very proud of the public-private partnerships that we create to be able to come into an area and be able to do those projects for the local communities,” Reilich said of Renovate America, which offers Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) financing, developed specifically for home improvements that provide energy efficiency and water conservation.

Residents can apply through renovateamerica.com once the program is up and running, but local contractors, like The K Company, will also offer PACE to homeowners as a financing option for their work.

"This is very important for the housing stock in Greater Summit County, and [we’re] very excited to be on the front end,” said Chris Martin, president and owner of The K Company, which was involved in the Crystal Clinic renovation in Bath.

According to Renovate America, one in six property owners replaces a system that affects energy consumption every year. California, Florida and Missouri have also launched statewide residential PACE programs, with $5.3 billion in funded projects, 220,000 homes and 42,000 jobs created.

In Ohio, Summit County joins Cuyahoga, Franklin and Lucas counties in establishing residential PACE programs. Ohio is the first state in the country to have consumer protections in place with the residential PACE program, including a minimum FICO score of 620 to qualify and being current on mortgage payments, among other requirements.

Approvals are based on home equity and ability to pay, with low fixed interest rates rates between 2.99 and 8.35% and fixed payment terms of five, 10, 15 or 20 years. Because it will be on tax bills, it can be assumed by new homeowners if current homeowners decide to sell their properties.

Residents have to live in a community that’s part of the Energy Special Improvement District to take part in the program. The DFA, working with the county, is the administrator of the district. In 2017, the county and DFA entered into a cooperative agreement with the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council to expand the district throughout the county.

Communities that are part of the district include Akron, Barberton, Bath, Copley, Coventry, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Lakemore, New Franklin, Norton, Springfield and Tallmadge. The rest of the county’s communities are expected to join by the end of the year.

By law, the district can only expand through adjacent communities, DFA President Chris Burnham said.

Barberton Mayor Bill Judge, Norton Mayor Mike Zita and Copley Township trustee Helen Humphrys all said they’re looking forward to the residential PACE program.

“It provides for the residents that fall between the cracks,” Humphrys said.

 

Contact reporter Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, emills@thebeaconjournal.com and @EmilyMills818.