There are no alternatives to R-PACE. For the simple reason that there are no other programs that can provide a long-term financial arrangement that does not subject both the lender and the beneficiary to real estate market valuation risk. The mistake made by nearly everyone interpreting PACE is assuming PACE is a loan and that a HELOC or other loan can be found at a lower interest rate and therefore these other existing loan tools are right for the job. They are not. That’s why their exclusive application is failing us miserably. That’s also why, when R-PACE is allowed, its growth in CA reflected an almost 80% year over year rate of growth among homeowners.
If a Virginia homeowner would like to be environmentally conscientious and responsible an invest in reducing their carbon footprint the best path is most likely insulation, a geothermal HVAC system and if the solar exposure works, a solar PV system. There can be other components of course. But, insulation can reduce the AC tonnage requirement substantially. A high performance home may require only 1 ton per 2,500 sf and in an older home 1 ton may only cover 500 sf. The power requirements obviously differ as substantially. A good system per current code requirements may be a 15 SEER system. Geothermal HVAC can be at an equivalent of 45 SEER. So it uses 1/3 the electricity. It can eliminate the need for a furnace. It can eliminate fossil fuel consumption for heat and hot water as it can supply hot water. Typical calculations show a carbon footprint reduction of 75%. There is no outside compressor noise. What’s more it does not lose efficiency when the air temperature gets really hot. (The ground is still around 60º F.) The combination of better insulation and geothermal HVAC can cut the number of solar panels by about half making solar more affordable and possibly creating a net zero home.
All of this would cost from $25,000 to $60,000 for average homes ranging from Jonesville to Ashburn. If they had that kind of cash, most homeowners would probably rather use it for a new car or a great vacation or other home improvements. With an R-PACE program you can do both!
So, if the position that “the existing tools work” had any merit I could happily agree. However, this has proven to be a red herring argument at best.
We face a huge problem in fighting global warming. My three grandchildren, and yours deserve our best efforts to leave them a planet in the same condition or better than the one we inherited.
Nationally, White House goals for carbon reduction are for 50% of 2005 levels by 2030. Virginia’s goals are for a zero carbon economy by 2045. The questions remain: What do we do to accomplish this? How do we pay for it? We could continue with the indirect carbon taxes that create stricter regulations on power plants, subsidies for cheaper efficiencies such as LED bulbs, we can pay Solar RECS and add to our power bills with Renewable Portfolio Standards instead of carbon credits, (after all if we use no electricity we don’t even need solar panels).
I would instead propose we use R-PACE to fund the changes we need and want.