Program turns energy efficiency into economic driver in San Diego

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Solar installation in Oakland. (Photo credit: Lauren Wellicome via Flickr)

Earlier this year, San Diego was crowned California’s number one solar city. Now, the Southern California city can claim another top spot. It’s the first municipality to introduce multiple Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) options. It’s a win-win situation–for the city, it pumps energy back into the economy; for the property owners—it’s a money saver.

San Diego recently adopted a second commercial PACE provider, San Diego based FIGTREE Energy Financing.

“PACE is an economic development tool that empowers local property owners to improve property values, stimulate cash-flow, create local jobs and reduce emissions using no public dollars,” said San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders. “Our role is to maximize financing options for property owners and to create a robust, competitive marketplace to drive innovation and help reduce capital costs.”

PACE is a municipal funding tool that provides commercial and residential property owners with 100 percent up front, long term financing to improve their properties with cost-cutting energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades. 

“We’ve seen time and again how competition drives marketplace excellence in San Diego,” said city councilman Carl DeMaio. “Adding FIGTREE to the city’s mix of PACE providers helps San Diego’s small business community by dropping the minimum project size from $50,000 to $5,000. This puts sustainable, property-improving energy and water upgrades within reach of most any property owner.” 

Worried about your FICO score? No need, PACE requires no minimum score and no money down. The program also allows property owners to qualify for federal, state and local tax credits, rebates or other incentives.

FIGTREE CEO Mahesh Shah believes his expert finance teams will “help with everything from financial analysis to lender consultant to engaging in capital markets for PACE in order to lower capital costs.”

Finance improvements through FIGTREE range from $5,000 to millions of dollars.

With all of this, why wouldn’t you want to go green? 

Greg Hale, director of Efficiency Finance at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation touted the benefits of PACE programs in his blog, including prolonging the life of building finishes and systems, and uses healthier, ecofriendly products and procedures. 

Hale added that PACE is good for everyone as a “creative, responsible and financially sound idea,” that “gets to the core of energy efficiency, while increasing property value and creating jobs.”

Gurbax Sahota, president and CEO of the California Association for Local Economic Development applauds San Diego for “bringing this unique, privately funded tool to the area and for inspiring a competitive marketplace.” 

And to think all of this is being done using no public financing.

“Now that’s the kind of government action municipalities should embrace,” said Sahota.

The California Economic Summit supports San Diego’s plans to focus on SMART INFRASTRUCTURE: FINANCING to commercial property owners. You can follow the Action Teams progress here.


Cheryl Getuiza

All stories by: Cheryl Getuiza