Monthly Archives: June 2011

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June 23, 2011 – Fresno Business Journal (written by Ben Keller) – A new program offered through the city of Fresno is giving property owners an attractive option for making water and energy upgrades for the good of the environment. The Property Assessed Clean Energy program emerged in California in 2008, allowing local governments to extend financing for water or energy retrofits paid back through a voluntary assessment on property taxes for up to 20 years. Coming on board in February, the city of Fresno became the largest such district in the program, joining jurisdictions in Berkeley, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Sonoma County, Tulare County and several others.

With projects ranging from new lighting and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems to solar panels and window sealing, Fresno has already enticed more than 40 property owners with the promise of cost savings, energy efficiency and some economic incentive by adding value to their building. “If your payments are $1,000 extra a year on your property taxes, but your energy savings are $1,500 a year because of the equipment you’ve installed, you’re $500 to the plus every year because you made this investment,” said the city of Fresno’s Sustainability Manager Joseph Oldham.

So far, more than $1.7 million worth of improvement projects at commercial properties have been approved in Fresno under the program, but no work can be done until a threshold of $2 million is reached to justify the sale of municipal bonds. That day should come soon, however, as another $15.8 million in upgrades are currently waiting in review. Holiday Inn in downtown Fresno was the first to volunteer for the assessment with $700,000 in proposed upgrades to its HVAC system and other energy efficient improvements.

A PACE licensed contractor itself, HVAC service and sheet metal fabrication company Four C’s Service also put its name in the hat for enhancements to its H Street building that includes rooftop solar panels. “We do some manufacturing at our facility too, so some of our energy costs during the summer when we’re busy can get pretty high,” said President Preston Cross. “I think right now, we can probably look at $3,000 to $5,000 a year in savings depending on the size of solar array that we put on the roof.” Such savings are expected to generate new jobs and other benefits as a result of the program, already established in various forms in 23 other states and made possible in California with the passage of Assembly Bill 811 in 2008. As long as the improvements don’t exceed the value of the property, Oldham said, the upgrades are worth the cost and also make the building more attractive to future buyers. “If businesses are looking to locate in the Valley, or if they want to stay in the Valley but they’re trying to figure out where is the best competitive place to stay, Fresno suddenly becomes a very important place because we have a tool no one else has,” Oldham said.
In addition, the program’s fee-based energy audits give property owners a head start when Assembly Bill 1103 goes into effect next year requiring nonresidential buildings to disclose energy consumption data to potential buyers or lessees.

But more than a tool for property owners, PACE is likely boost business for contractors. With around 36 contractors approved under the program throughout California, many more could get their hands on the work when they apply at www.cityenergysavings.com. “There’s a huge market out there for as many contractors as we can get in play to do this,” said Daryl Baltazar, sales and business development director for DAC Service in Fresno. “Then, if we get Clovis and (Fresno) county and all of the other rural cities to engage these programs, it’s huge.”

The people of Fresno used 3.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2009, accounting for nearly half of all energy consumed in Fresno County. Sixty percent of that came from the commercial sector.
According to figures from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., around 65 percent of all energy-saving investments in Fresno have come in the way of lighting, while only 9 percent have been committed to air conditioning.

While businesses can take advantage of free or low-cost PG&E-sponsored energy saving programs like AirCare Plus and Fresno Energy Watch, most of those are nowhere near the level of savings and value that come through PACE, Oldham said. “You’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars that our local businesses are spending on energy,” Oldham said. “If they could reduce that, that could make their business more profitable, keep their business in business and, theoretically, they could expand their business and hire more people.”

PACE has not been without its obstacles, however. Last year, the government’s mortgage-finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac resisted the program’s involvement in the residential market with concerns that the energy improvement loans would take priority over mortgage debt in case of default. Some PACE districts, including Fresno, have held off on backing the financing for home upgrades until a clearer solution is reached on how to work around such opposition.

http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/government/10169-fresno-on-pace-with-biz-energy-savings-program

6/20/2011 – Pacific Housing & Finance Agency, a San Diego, California based corporation is committed to making financial sense of the clean energy movement. As a finance company, PHFA is partnering with public agencies, private companies, suppliers, contractors and non-profit organizations to introduce California PACE™.

“Our extensive experience with PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) helped us author a financing program for commercial property owners called California PACE™,” stated Michael Chapin, President/CEO of PHFA. “It gives government leaders and administrators the opportunity to reach their goals to reduce energy consumption and create jobs,” Chapin said.

As of June 20th, PHFA is officially accepting applications for their California PACE™ financing program. Commercial property owners now have access to government approved and adopted financing, which allows them to buy EE (energy efficient) products and equipment. Those purchases stimulate the local economy and create job opportunities for approved contractors.