La Mesa is one of a dozen cities in San Diego County taking part in a state-backed program aimed at getting commercial property owners to invest in energy-saving projects.
Launched locally Tuesday, the Property Assessed Clean Energy program allows property owners to finance improvements by using their properties as collateral. Owners would then pay off the improvements through assessments added to property tax bills, according to the county.
“Here is a low-cost financing option to make buildings more energy efficient—with no up-front costs,” said county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. “This program will pay dividends by reducing power bills and impacts to the environment.”
Patch towns in PACE include Carlsbad, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, Lemon Grove, Poway, Santee and Oceanside. Unincorporated San Diego County also is included.
Other local cities, including San Diego, are considering joining the program as well, according to Jeff Collins, chief of staff for county Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
Oakland-based Renewable Funding runs the program. Funding comes via CaliforniaFIRST, a consortium of 126 cities and 14 counties funded by private capital and the sale of municipal bonds to upgrade energy and water systems.
The program “gives businesses a great option for pursing energy efficiency projects that may have previously been out of reach,” said Jacob, the East County county supervisor. “The county’s partnership with CaliforniaFIRST provides a mechanism for participants to start spending less money on energy
bills and more back into the business.”
Work associated with the effort could produce up to 25,000 jobs statewide, officials said.
Applications are at californiaFIRST.org, or property owners can call 510-692-9995.
PACE as a financing mechanism was pioneered by Berkeley for its residential owners in 2008, according to a press release.
“The promising residential energy upgrade platform ran into regulatory headwinds in 2010,” said the release. “But commercial PACE programs have since been launched in such diverse local jurisdictions as San Francisco, Los Angeles County and Washington, D.C. The CaliforniaFIRST program is the first multi-jurisdictional program of its kind to be essentially statewide in scale.”
CaliforniaFIRST is a program of the California Statewide Communities Development Authority, created in 1988 to provide California’s local governments with an effective tool for the timely financing of community-based public benefit projects.
CSCDA is sponsored by the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. More than 500 California cities, counties and special districts are members to CSCDA.
—City News Service contributed to this report.