Alamo Heights wants greener buildings; finance toolset to energize homeowners

Alamo Heights has taken a step toward greener buildings with the approval of a funding tool for homeowners.

The city has implemented a property-rated clean energy program to provide low-cost, long-term financing to pay for energy efficiency and water conservation improvements for commercial and residential property owners. non-profit and owners of multi-family residences of five or more units. Upgrades can range from irrigation equipment and windows to roofing and solar panels.

Homeowners are paying back the cost of improvements over 10 to 20 years or more, using the savings they realize from reduced utility expenses, said Lyle Hufstetler, natural resources project coordinator for the Council of Governments of the Alamo area.

Alamo Heights is the 13th municipality in the region to implement the program. Others that have PACE in their community include San Antonio, Balcones Heights, Comal County and Leon Valley. All of these programs are administered by the Alamo Area Council of Governments, a political subdivision of the State of Texas that provides general technical assistance to member governments, which will also administer the Alamo Heights program.

In the coming weeks, Hufstetler said the Board of Governments will contact the Alamo Heights business community to let them know that the PACE funding option is now available. So far, members of the Alamo Heights community have not reached out to get involved in the program, said Hufstetler and Alamo Heights Deputy City Manager Phil Laney.

Paying for improvements through a PACE program is different from taking out a personal or business loan. No down payment is required for PACE financing. The owners are asking for a first lien on the property for the full cost of the project, and the owner is paying it back in installments, according to the PACE authority. The appraisal is attached to the property, so if one owner sells it, the next owner is responsible for continuing to make the payments.

Owners interested in PACE funding should start by visiting the Board of Governments to learn more about the program. There they will be directed to a website with a list of lenders and contractors experienced with PACE, as well as third-party reviewers who could estimate the savings a homeowner could see from desired improvements.

Two community members asked city council questions about the PACE program during a public hearing on Monday, after which council voted 3-2 to establish the PACE program and ask the Council of Alamo Area Governments to administer the program for the city.

[email protected]

Geraldine D. Luckett