New funding aims to reduce energy costs 

Approximately 2,000 midsize to small San Francisco businesses and 500 homes will receive a free audit and partial funding to make energy-efficient retrofits as part of a $19.2 million plan aimed at reducing utility bills.

Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the new funding Wednesday at Davies Symphony Hall, where ongoing retrofits such as hyper-
efficient light bulbs will save $3 million in taxpayer money that can be redirected to cash-strapped city services, officials said.

But most of the new round of funding — around $11.5 million — will go toward boosting efficiency at private properties. The money will fund The City’s Energy Watch program, which offers homeowners and businesses a free audit of their properties, according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The audits, done by city workers, help identify various ways a building can operate more efficiently and breaks down the cost-saving figures that would come from installing new technology.

Auditors examine energy-efficiency savings opportunities in lighting, refrigeration, heating and air conditioning, among other areas. They also help search for the most cost-effective way to accomplish the retrofits.

The $11.5 million will allow partial payments for the suggested retrofits. The more the property owner plans to do in the name of efficiency, the more public funding they can receive, according to the SFPUC.

Of the $19.2 million, $7.7 million came from federal stimulus funds and the remaining from a monthly fee paid by PG&E customers.

This year, around $3.1 million will be used to install energy-saving technology at nine public buildings, including the Ella Hill Hutch Center and Southeast Health Center, according to the SFPUC.

Since the Energy Watch program began in 2007, more than 2,000 midsize to small businesses have been retrofitted, Newsom said.

The retrofits have been a boon for The City’s emerging green economy, providing work for 35 businesses and sustaining
175 jobs in the energy-efficiency sector, the mayor said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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