Unique Characteristics of Project: NHA developed one of the first PACE financing programs in the U.S. (Berkeley FIRST), which helped serve as a model for other local agencies across the State and Country.
Executive Summary: In 2006, the City used an assessment district financing structure to underground utilities and remove existing utility poles after the Oakland Hills Fire devastated several residential neighborhoods between Berkeley and Oakland. Using this property tax structure, the concept of the property assessed clean energy financing (“PACE”) was developed between NHA Advisors and the bond counsel firm Jones Hall. The concept of using a public financing technique to make private improvements was developed between 2007 and 2008 to address the local green initiative of moving Berkeley residents and property owners towards renewable energy sources like solar. The voters of Berkeley had approved an ordinance calling for more renewable energy, and the need to develop a financing program was key to advancing this cause. With the development of the PACE program, each property owner could “opt-in” to a financing district and elect to use their property tax bills as a form of repayment for solar equipment installed on their house. One of the major benefits of this structure was the ability to pass along payments to future homeowners. Historically, the liability of equipment finance was with the original owner.
After the pilot program was developed in Berkeley, the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Los Angeles also retained NHA to develop PACE programs.