Tuesday, March 2, 2010

San Francisco launches nation's largest PACE program

San Francisco is following Berkeley's lead and will launch the biggest PACE program in the nation (article).  Beginning on March 1, 2010, a total of $150 million in loans will be made available to the city's property owners for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements. This program expands upon the Berkeley PACE program, a pilot study in 2008 that dedicated $1.5 million in loans for solar panel installations.

For the program to really work in San Francisco, it will have to prioritize energy efficiency improvements before renewable energy projects.  What's the benefit of generating renewable energy when your HVAC system is old and inefficient, your windows have leaks, and your house lacks insulation?  The energy produced and the cost savings generated will be quickly lost.

Ultimately, these energy efficiency retrofits are more economical and have a far quicker payback than renewable energy technologies.   Dr. Jones really hit on this critical point in his last post when he said municipalities need to focus on those high impact retrofits that pay dividends quickly.  Setting up a system that focuses on the quick paybacks has the added bonus of encouraging more property owners to participate in the program, which  results in more energy reduction.  The way I look at it is...every kilowatt we can save is a step in the right direction.

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