Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is the mPOWER program?

mPOWER provides financing to property owners for the installation of energy and water efficiency retrofits and renewable energy systems. (Renewable energy is energy that comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat.) The financed amount is amortized and the annual amount due is added to the property tax bill.

Why is the mPOWER financing program needed?

Energy efficiency measures continue to develop and improve. Current construction integrates several of these innovations and improvements, but many older buildings, even those only a few years old, were not constructed to a high degree of energy efficiency. As a result, these buildings waste energy, which releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and raises costs on property owner utility bills. Energy efficiency improvements and water conservation measures are an investment, and mPOWER makes it easy and affordable to finance improvements that will result in energy, water and money savings.

Who can apply for mPOWER financing?

All residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or multi-family residential (5 units or more) property owners located in any the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Folsom, Grass Valley, Lincoln, Nevada City, Rocklin, and Roseville; the towns of Loomis and Truckee; unincorporated Placer County; and unincorporated Nevada County are eligible to apply. This includes schools and churches.  The following requirements must be satisfied:

  • Applicant must be the legal owner of the property described in the application or have the authority to encumber the property.
  • Property taxes are current with no notices of default within the last 3 years.
  • Property owner is current on mortgages with no notice of default within the last 5 years.
  • Property owner has not had a bankruptcy for at least 5 years since date of discharge.
  • Property must not be subject to any involuntary liens.
  • There are no recorded easements or covenants prohibiting the improvement.
  • For non-residential properties the current mortgage lender(s) has/have provided written acknowledgement for the MPOWER financing.
  • For non-residential properties…..energy audit

For a complete list of qualifications, visit our website at http://mpowerca.org

How does mPOWER financing work?

Property owners apply for financing of energy and/or water efficient improvement for their property.  If approved, the property owner and mPOWER enter into an assessment contract.  After the improvements have been installed and verified, mPOWER will finance the cost of the improvements and place an assessment lien on the property.  The assessment is amortized for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years, depending on the useful life of the product.  The property owner repays the financing ofthe improvements as a line item on their property tax bill.

Eligible Improvement Information

What improvements can I finance?

mPOWER will finance water and energy efficient retrofits and alternative energy generation equipment that are permanently affixed to the property.  A few examples are:

  • High efficiency lighting
  • High efficiency heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment
  • Cool roofs
  • High efficiency windows & doors
  • Solar or wind energy generation systems
  • Smart irrigation controllers

Refer to our list of Residential Improvements or Non-Residential Improvements. You may request “custom measures” specific to your building needs.

Can I finance solar leases or PPA agreements?

No. Only equipment permanently installed and owned by the building owner is eligible.

Can I finance repairs associated with the installation of an improvement?

Financing of minor repairs, necessary to the installation of an improvement, will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

I would like to reduce my water use, particularly in the area of landscaping. Will mPOWER finance xeriscaping (landscaping that conserves water)?

No. MPOWER will finance water conservation measures such as smart irrigation controllers and rainwater cisterns but will not include the cost of new landscaping.

How do I apply for mPOWER financing?

The mPOWER application is available online on the Applications and Forms page. There are three ways to submit an application: by email to mpower@placer.ca.gov, by fax (530) 889-4100, or in person at 2976 Richardson Drive in Auburn.

How is my personal information collected and managed?

We maintain the privacy of your personal information.  Please refer to the Placer County Web Data Protection and Privacy Statement for details.

What is the interest rate being charged for mPOWER financing?

The current interest rate for mPOWER assessment financing is fixed at 6 percent.

My commercial business is located on the same parcel as my residence. Can I still apply for financing?

Yes.  However, your lender(s) will need to provide written acknowledgement for the mPOWER financing.

If the property is owned by a corporation or in a trust, can I still apply?

Yes.  Trust, corporation, or LLC documents showing that the applicant has the legal right to encumber the property are required at the time of application.

Is my property eligible since it is located within the city limits?

All residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or multi-family residential (5 units or more) property owners located in any the cities of Auburn, Colfax, Folsom, Grass Valley, Lincoln, Nevada City, Rocklin, and Roseville; the towns of Loomis and Truckee; unincorporated Placer County; and unincorporated Nevada County are eligible to to participate in the mPOWER program.

Are there limits on the amount of financing I can apply for? What are the terms?

The assessment lien cannot exceed 10% of the value of the property.  The value is determined by either the assessed value of  market value.  The minimum amount eligible for financing is $2,500.  Repayments are made over 5, 10, 15, or 20 years, depending on the useful life of the product.  A shorter payback period may be requested.

Does mPOWER also issue building permits for the improvements?

No.  All building permits are issued by the local authority for the jurisdiction which the property resides.

Can I finance work that has already been started and/or completed?

No.  Once labor associated with the projects has begun or if the project is completed it is no longer eligible for mPOWER financing.  However, energy audits performed during the application process and estimates do not qualify as “started.”  Therefore, any costs incurred in obtaining an audit can be included in the mPOWER financing.

Do I have to use a designated contractor, or can I hire my own?

mPOWER has no restrictions on the selection of a contractor.  We will, however, verify that the contractor is licensed, bonded and has the appropriate insurance, including workers’ compensation.  We also offer guidance in the selection of a contractor at our informational seminar, a required element of our program.

How do I determine my property’s assessed value?

The amount of your property’s Assessed Value can be found on your most recent tax bill.  Through the County Assessor’s website for the county in which you reside, you can also determine your assessed value.

Using the Assessment Parcel Number (APN), you may also look up the assessed value of a property:

Finance Information

What are the advantages of participating in the mPOWER program?

MPOWER’s applicants  enjoy the following advantages:

  • Easy to apply
  • No money down
  • Fixed interest
  • No credit check and the assessment does not appear on  future credit reports
  • Financing is based on the value of  the property, not on the applicant’s income
  • Financed amount is repaid on your property tax bill

Are there program fees associated with the mPOWER financing? If so, can I include them in the financed amount? How much are they?

mPOWER incurs certain processing costs which are passed on to the applicant.  These fees can be included in the financed amount.  They are:

  • Title Costs = $155
  • Recording Costs = Approximately $66 ($33 for the 2 Title pages, $3 thereafter)
  • Processing fee = $500 for residential projects; $1,300 for non-residential projects

In addition,  an  assessment collection fee of $25 is collected annually.

What is the repayment period? Can I request a shorter term?

The repayment period is based on the product(s) useful life of 5, 10, 15 or 20 years.   However, the applicant may request a shorter repayment term.

Can I participate if my property is “under water”?

No.  The sum of all debt against the property, including mPOWER financing, cannot exceed 100% of the property’s assessed or market value, whichever is greater.  Please refer to our Eligibility Calculator.

Can I finance my energy and water audit costs, as well as engineering and design costs?

Costs necessary for the planning and installation of the energy and/or water efficiency measures can be included in the mPOWER financing.  Those costs include but are not limited to the energy audit, drafting, engineering services, labor, appraisal fees, permit fees and program fees.

What about rebates and tax credits for the improvements?

Rebates and other incentives that are received at or near the time of installation cannot be included in the financed amount.  However, rebates that are performance based incentives and tax credits are not taken into account when determining the mPOWER financing amount.

Will my property taxes go up as a result of installing improvements?

State law specifically exempts property tax increases due to the installation of most energy efficient retrofits and renewable energy generation systems.  However, once the property is sold, the new owner may be assessed at a higher rate due to those improvements.  Applicants are urged to call their County Assessor’s office for clarification.

  • Placer County Assessor’s Office – (530) 889-4300
  • Nevada County Assessor’s Office – (530) 265-1232
  • Sacramento County Assessor’s Office – (916) 876-0700

Once my project is completed how long will it take to receive payment?

Payments are made every Thursday, with few exceptions.  All invoices, finaled building permits, and required paperwork must be submitted to mPOWER at least 6 County business days prior to the desired disbursement date.

When does the County place the assessment lien on the property?

The assessment lien is placed on the property three days after the assessment contract is signed.  However, interest does not begin to accrue until money is disbursed to the applicant or the contractor.  (The owner can opt to have funds paid directly to the contractor.)

What will happen if I can’t make the payments?

The County may proceed with judicial foreclosure based on nonpayment of property taxes.

What will happen if I sell the property before the assessment is paid off?

You are required by law to disclose the terms of the assessment lien to any potential buyers should you decide to sell the property. Since the mPOWER financing is an assessment against the property and not the property owner, the assessment may stay with the property until paid in full. However, most lenders are currently requiring the assessment lien to be paid off in the event of a sale or refinance.

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