New $100 million program offers funding for clean energy upgrades

01/31/2013 12:00 AM

01/31/2013 8:15 AM

A $100 million program that provides funding for clean technology upgrades to commercial and residential buildings was launched in Sacramento on Wednesday.

Clean Energy Sacramento, a partnership between the city of Sacramento and the Ygrene Energy Fund, is the first program in the nation that provides private financing for clean-tech upgrades to buildings. Improvements funded by the financing will include energy efficiency upgrades to cooling systems, solar installations and water conservation tools.

There are $22 million in prequalified projects ready to go in Sacramento, officials announced during a ceremony at the midtown offices of Clean Energy Sacramento.

Those projects include a $513,000 upgrade to the chilling system at 520 Capitol Mall installed by Airco Mechanical. The upgrades are projected to reduce the building's energy costs by $47,000 a year for the next 25 years, said Stacey Lawson, the CEO of Ygrene.

"This is good environmental policy, this is good economic policy," said Mayor Kevin Johnson. The mayor, Rep. Doris Matsui and Councilman Kevin McCarty were the chief proponents of the program.

A projected 1,150 jobs will be created by the program, which is part of a national effort launched by British billionaire Richard Branson and his nonprofit Carbon War Room.

"This is a revolutionary program that will help us grow this green economy in a tangible way," McCarty said. "I think we've found a sweet spot to make this a win-win-win."

Ygrene, which is based in Santa Rosa, will provide loans to property owners who retrofit their buildings. The loans will come from a line of credit administered by Barclays Capital and will be repaid by property owners through special property tax assessments. No city funds will be used.

"All of these projects offer real payback," Lawson said.

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