There's been a lot of news about one of the most innovative clean energy financing programs around: Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, or HERO. Available in western Riverside and San Bernardino counties, it offers residents and business owners low-cost loans for solar installations and certain other building improvements, which are then paid back through assessments on the property-tax bills. And not only is HERO a great chance to add solar to your home or business, it's also easy to apply for a loan.
Once you confirm you live in an area designated for HERO funding, you can fill out the application and mail it in, complete it online, or have a contractor call it in for you. You provide your name, home address and type of home, Social Security number, and email address. You also sign a document confirming that you are current on your property taxes and have not been late more than once over the past three years and that the home is not part of bankruptcy proceedings, among other items. The final page of the application lists the terms and conditions of the loan. In the western Riverside HERO program, applicants can potentially get approval for their loan on the same business day it's submitted online or through a contractor. (It can take seven to 10 business days if a hard copy of the application is submitted.)
HERO is a unique opportunity to get affordable solar installation. Solar photovoltaic system inverters and panels are eligible for financing, as well as solar water and pool heating systems. But there are also other improvement projects that qualify for the program: indoor water efficiency, water heating, insulation, and cool roof and wall systems, among others. Your contractor calls the HERO office and gives them product specifications to ensure their eligbility-once they get the OK, HERO will send you an agreement confirming the life of the loan (usually five to 20 years), a notice to proceed with the project, and financing documents. After that, you can get to work on your project-it must be completed between 90 and 120 days after the date of loan approval, depending on the type of improvement. Once the work is completed, you turn in a Completion Certificate to get payment. If you're considering adding solar to your home or business, HERO may save the day.