San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. Supervisors Move Forward with Green Energy Program

December 8, 2014

San Francisco will soon move forward with a creative financing program that would help homeowners install solar panels and make energy efficiency upgrades, after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved it Tuesday.

Dubbed GreenFinanceSF and generally known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, the program will allow homeowners to borrow money for green energy upgrades and pay it back as a line item on their property tax bills. It faces one more vote at the board before going to the mayor for his signature.

Adoption of the program was four years in the making: San Francisco attempted to move forward with a PACE program in 2010 but backed off when federal banking authorities, worried it would pose a risk to mortgage lenders if homeowners defaulted on the loans, objected. State and local government officials pushed back in recent years, creating a $10 million state reserve to cover defaults and moving forward in recent months with dozens of local PACE programs around the state.

San Francisco’s program is expected to kick off in the spring; it is the last Bay Area county to adopt a PACE program.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who sponsored the San Francisco legislation with Mayor Ed Lee, said the expansion of PACE programs could “trigger a market transformation as profound as the information and technological revolution that we are currently experiencing,” as well as help San Franciscans save money on their energy bills and create local construction jobs.

“Other parts of the state that have adopted PACE programs, most notably Sonoma and Riverside counties, have seen the positive impacts that have followed for their residents and their local economy,” Farrell said.

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