Home solar financing program rolls out in Orange County

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A program that allows homeowners to go solar without paying upfront costs has been approved by several Orange County cities.  

The solar financing plan is called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE.  

Orange County cities offering the program include Anaheim, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Santa Ana and Tustin.  

San Diego-based Sullivan Solar Power is one of the providers installing solar energy systems for PACE-financed projects. 

"It's an innovative way to go solar. For the first time you're able to actually get tax deductions through your property taxes for the payments that you make on the system," said David Savarese, director of project development at Sullivan Solar Power. 

If homeowners meet certain requirements, they get the PACE financing and then connect with a solar provider. There's no money down, interest rates are fixed and the interest on the loan can be deducted from state and federal taxes. If the home is sold, the assessment is passed on to the new owner.  

J.P. MacNeill is CEO of Renovate America, one of the companies that works with cities on the solar program - including making sure the proposed projects qualify. 

He said the company has financed about 8,000 projects in 42 California cities since January 2012. MacNeill said the program is a win-win for reducing the reliance on carbon-based energy sources and for homeowners.   

"On average, for every dollar that gets invested, the homeowner will save $2.24 over the course of time on that particular project that they put on their property," said MacNeill. 

MacNeill said 121 California cities have signed on to the solar financing program and more cities and counties are expected to opt-in.

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