Skip to content



When a Climate Change HERO Comes Along



Providing Turnkey Sustainability Programs


[01:18] Introduction of Barbara Spoonhour and Dustin Reilich.

[01:52] Barbara shares how the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program started, what the goals were, and how the program works.

[03:29] What does PACE stand for?

[04:50] Barbara and Dustin describe the early years of the program.

[06:45] Was Renovate America on board with HERO from the very beginning?

[07:50] Dustin explains that the money that would have gone to utilities is being used to create jobs.

[08:55] Is there an opportunity for individual households to reduce their carbon footprint as a result of the HERO program?

[09:30] Is the program available to multi-unit houses, apartment buildings, etc.?

[10:26] How did the HERO program ramp up so quickly?

[11:40] How is the program different today than when it started in 2011?

[12:46] Barbara shares the specific, measurable outcomes she wants to achieve.

[14:31] Dustin explains how the expansion is going.

[15:59] Are there aspects of HERO that are designed to deal with issues of environmental justice, racial justice, income inequality?

[18:25] Is there any effort to target lower income communities?

[19:43] Barbara and Dustin share when they realized their career focus was working on issues of sustainability.

[22:14] Barbara and Dustin share if they ever imagined this program would become so big so fast.

[24:55] Dustin share how people can learn more about HERO and how they can get involved.

[25:50] Barbara and Dustin share one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.

[27:35] Barbara and Dustin describe the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.

[29:26] Barbara and Dustin explain what Western Riverside County, California, and our country look like 30 years from now.

[30:46] Barbara explains what motivated WRCOG to reach beyond local governments to have this program statewide in California.


Barbara Spoonhour, Director of Energy and Environmental Programs, has been with Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) since 2001. Ms. Spoonhour has over 10 years of experience in local government and over 15 years in implementing environmental programs. She oversees the energy efficiency and water conservation program for Western Riverside County, referred to as HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity). The HERO program expanded statewide in 2014 and currently has over $1 billion in approved projects. In addition, Ms. Spoonhour oversees the Western Riverside Energy Leader Partnership, which is a public-private partnership with Southern California Edison that promotes jurisdictional leadership for the promotion of energy efficiency.

Dustin Reilich is the Senior Director of Municipal Development for Renovate America – HERO Financing. The HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) program provides turnkey Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program management designed for municipalities. The HERO program includes a full set of program deliverables that incorporate best practices utilized by other municipalities. This ensures each program builds on the experience of other programs, while at the same time allowing municipalities to modify the program to meet unique requirements.


HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) is a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program that provides financing for energy-efficient and renewable energy products. In the state of California, HERO provides these same financing options for water-saving and drought-resistant products. The program offers more consumers access to energy-efficient options because HERO is financed as an assessment on your property. It incorporates renewable energy products (solar PV, solar thermal, etc.), energy efficiency products (heating systems, cooling systems, lighting, windows, insulation, etc.) and water efficiency products (low-flow toilets, weather based sprinkling systems, etc.). Clients prioritize potential eligible products based on the derived benefits which may include: costs savings, energy savings, greenhouse gas emission reductions, air quality improvements, and water usage reductions.


“[PACE] gives property owners access to capital they normally would not have had. It gives them options to, when they’re doing a project, of not using their credit card with super-high interest rates if they don’t have cash available or if they don’t have access to home-equity lines of credit. It is another way that they can finance a project.”

“Obviously, some projects are going to pencil out to where it creates a very positive cash flow on a monthly basis for a constituent, and some other projects just enable them the ability to get a project done that they had not been able to get done previously or they didn’t have the financing available to get that project done for, maybe, a new roof or for new doors and windows that are energy efficient. So it improves, also, their quality of life and standard of living on a daily basis as well as conserving energy.”

“Consumer protections have always been our number-one priority. We have, through lessons learned, increased and heightened those consumer protections that have always been in place but have enhanced them to look out for the elderly, additional protections there; really working with the contracting community because they are the boots on the ground and making sure that they fully represent the HERO program in a manner that we want them to represent us as and being more engaged in that whole process.”



Residential HERO Program

HERO Program Hotline: 855-HERO-411

HERO Program Frequently Asked QuestionS


Thanks so much for joining us. Have some feedback or an idea you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave an honest review for Infinite Earth Radio on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are super helpful and greatly appreciated as it helps us expose this show to a wider audience – plus, we read each and every one of them!