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Mayor Lee & Supervisor Farrell to Restart GreenFinanceSF Program for Residential Buildings
New Energy-Efficiency & Renewable Energy Financing Program Saves Homeowners Money, Creates Green Jobs & Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Posted Date: 11/26/2013
Mayor Edwin M. Lee and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell today announced that the City will restart a program to help property owners finance energy efficiency projects in their homes. Called GreenFinanceSF, the program for residential buildings is a voluntary Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program that provides affordable financing options to San Francisco homeowners to pay for the installation of energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements. GreenFinanceSF creates green jobs for the local economy while also reducing energy and water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

“GreenFinanceSF is an important tool in San Francisco’s nationally-recognized efforts to address climate change and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor Lee. “We are removing a major financial obstacle for homeowners who want to upgrade their buildings with energy-efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects. I know San Francisco homeowners are eager to participate in these programs that will not only improve their homes and save them money, but they will be creating jobs for our local economy.”

“GreenFinanceSF is the environmental solution we have all been searching for in San Francisco to build local renewable energy sources and create local jobs,” said Supervisor Farrell. “GreenFinanceSF will further cement San Francisco's national role as a leader in reducing the adverse effects of climate change, and make it easy for property owners in our neighborhoods to make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes.”

Participants of the program can obtain financing for approved efficiency projects and make payments through property taxes for up-to a 20-year period. Because the financing for upgrades are tied to the property, interest rates are more competitive and the benefits and costs of the improvements transfer with the property to a new owner.

GreenFinanceSF will also create good, skilled jobs and training opportunities for San Francisco residents by increasing in demand for energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy projects. Mayor Lee and Supervisor Farrell will work together and with the community to ensure San Francisco residents and workforce programs, especially those working with the disadvantaged communities, will realize the benefits of the program.

“San Francisco is a leader in providing the right opportunities to help residents make their buildings greener and reduce their operating cost.  Solar, energy efficiency and water conservation are smart investments for the economic and environmental health of our community – they create good jobs across the economic and educational spectrum while reducing our impact on the natural environment,” said Jeanine Cotter, Co-Founder and President of Luminalt, a locally owned San Francisco based solar installation company.

Residential and commercial buildings account for over half of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions. Although GreenFinanceSF has been available for commercial buildings in the City, the program for residential homeowners was suspended in 2010 when the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) raised objections to the senior position of PACE financing over government-guaranteed private mortgages. Despite bipartisan support in Congress for PACE financing, legislative action to resolve the impasse stalled in Washington DC. Recently, however, Governor Jerry Brown announced a reserve fund for PACE programs in California that will address FHFA’s concerns and ensure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not be adversely impacted by PACE financing.

Despite FHFA’s opposition, some residential PACE programs have thrived in California and currently operate in several counties and cities, with more municipalities considering making the program available.

For San Francisco homeowners, GreenFinanceSF overcomes challenges that have hindered the adoption of energy- efficiency and water-efficiency projects in buildings by eliminating up-front costs, providing low-cost, long-term financing, and making it easy to transfer repayment obligations to a new homeowner upon sale.

“GreenFinanceSF will allow me to make an energy-efficiency upgrade in a financially responsible way to my home,” said Josephine Zhao. “I’m happy to participate in a program that provides favorable financing options while also helping the community and the environment.”