CaliforniaFIRST program offered to SLO County commercial property owners to reduce energy and water use

In an effort to help owners of commercial property reduce energy and water use, San Luis Obispo County has joined other California cities and counties in implementing a private-public partnership that seeks to achieve that end.

The county is one of 14 counties and 126 cities launching the innovative financing tool. Under it, commercial property owners can use municipal bonds to finance energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy upgrades, which they repay through a special assessment on their annual property tax bill.

Through a public-private partnership, private capital will be used to supply the upfront funding for the work, so that local government budgets will not be burdened, according to a news release from the county.

“We are excited to be able to offer the innovative CaliforniaFIRST program to local property owners,” said county Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Patterson. “This public-private partnership is a win-win: It can cut owners’ utility bills, create jobs and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to U.S. Department of Energy researchers, if all U.S. businesses and institutions conducted cost-effective upgrades, they could reduce their average energy use by 25 percent.

The total cost of this work would be more than $100 billion — which would be offset as a result of lower energy bills, the DOE said.

For more information, go to http://www.sloplanning.org   .