Hilliard residents soon will have access to a new financing option when they consider making energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes.

On Nov. 25, Hilliard City Council approved a resolution to join the Columbus Regional Energy Special Improvement District Residential Program Plan. That's a very long title -- it's known as an ESID, for short -- but the purpose is simple: to provide low-interest financing for homeowners who are looking to finance energy efficiency and solar projects for their homes.

This program is being administered by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. A certified installer will help homeowners submit a petition to that body outlining the plans.

If approved, a homeowner would receive the necessary funds, upfront, to pay for up to 100% of the total project cost. The fixed-rate loan would be paid back through a special assessment on the home's property taxes for up to 30 years.

This is a strictly voluntary program, so your property taxes are not impacted in any way unless you wish to participate and obtain financing through this platform.

This property-assessed clean energy financing -- best known as PACE financing -- has been available for commercial properties since 2009.

In March, the owners of the One Mill Run office building applied for and received PACE financing for a series of energy-saving improvements at the building. One Mill Run installed new LEDs and controls, building-automation controls and cold-water-pump variable-frequency drives, and it improved the energy efficiency of the elevators and HVAC systems. The total cost of these improvements was $3,848,587.

The One Mill Run owners were able to get funding upfront, and for the next 21 years, they will pay an annual assessment of $91,633. Although that might sound like a lot to spend on energy improvements, these projects are estimated to save $144,086 in energy costs for the building annually, which more than offsets the cost of the assessment.

For residents considering PACE financing, eligible projects include upgrades to HVAC systems, lighting, windows and insulation and such energy-generation projects a solar panels, amongst other projects. These projects can be quite costly, but the energy savings can be substantial, as well, and that savings might even exceed the cost.

The trick often is finding the money to pay for the upgrades, and that most often requires some type of financing. By joining the ESID, the city of Hilliard has opened a new avenue to obtain that financing through a program that offers lower-interest rates than you will find through traditional financing means.

It is our hope that this will help put some of these projects within reach for our residents who want to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. The city will provide more information about how to participate as the program becomes available.

Pete Marsh is a Hilliard City Council member and liaison to the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.