San Francisco approves large ‘green financing’ program
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has signed the final legislation required to establish San Francisco’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The program is the nation’s largest PACE program to date, making $150 million in bonding capacity available to private property owners to finance water conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through a voluntary special property tax.
The new “green financing” program establishes a Citywide Mello-Roos Special Tax District, so the financing for the environmental improvements will be attached to the property and paid back through a special line item on the property tax bill over the life of the improvements. “This green financing program is going to create green jobs and fuel the next wave of energy and water efficiency and renewable energy development in San Francisco,” Newsom said in a statement. “It helps home and property owners overcome the large up-front costs of major environmental improvements to their buildings.”
It is estimated that 45 percent of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used in local buildings, according to the Mayor’s Office. “With almost half of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions being produced by our homes and local buildings, this new green financing program will drastically curb San Francisco’s carbon footprint and reduce the strain on our regional water supply,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, a co-sponsor of the program. “It will also help put San Franciscans to work through our growing green jobs academies and programs.”
Even with tax breaks and traditional loan arrangements, many home and building owners cannot support the upfront investment for environmental improvements. “As we have seen with the success of GoSolarSF, our solar energy incentive program, San Franciscans will seize the opportunity to make their homes and buildings greener if we create the right incentives and make targeted investments,” Newsom said.