Funding Resources

Taking local action on climate change and clean energy is hard enough. Let us help you identify ways to pay for it.

Featured Active Funding Opportunities

Internal Funding Best Practices

While rarely easy, there are many ways to identify internal sources of funding for locally-led focused on reducing energy and greenhouse gas emissions in municipal or privately owned facilities. Did we miss an internal best practice? Let us know at eecoordinator@lgc.org.

External Funding Best Practices

Internal sources of funding can be greatly supplemented by a wide range of available external resources like those described below. While obtaining dollars from external sources often requires significant time commitment and deep subject-matter expertise, these efforts can pay off immensely, particularly in the sustainability field, where opportunities are growing rapidly. Did we miss an external best practice? Let us know at eecoordinator@lgc.org.

Annual Budget Appropriations

One way to obtain resources is simply to ask for them as part of a local department’s annual budget proposal. While simple in theory, many local governments find it challenging to appropriate general fund dollars in an annual budget to support the upfront costs of climate and energy projects and initiatives. This may be due to political ideologies or because they view work outside of traditional health and safety services as discretionary and non-essential, especially during difficult budget years. However, given the growing level of urgency around climate change and the real world experience of impacts to health and safety (e.g. heat waves, wildfires, flooding), local governments are beginning to see these appropriations as a key investment that can avoid the overwhelming costs of climate change and build community-wide social, economic, and environmental resilience.

Alternatively, jurisdictions can ensure that all funds appropriated to any department or capital improvement plan are spent in line with municipal building standards. By adopting building standards, local governments can require all of their buildings meet specific criteria. For example, a jurisdiction could require all buildings to meet LEED standards, be Zero Net Energy, or produce no carbon emissions.

Budgeting for the High Road Just Transition

The Governor’s OPR will soon release the HIgh Road Just Transition Roadmap, which aims to incorporate economic diversification, industry planning, safety net updates, workforce development and regional collaboratives in the process of transitioning justly into a sustainable California with principles rooted in equity, inclusivity and good quality jobs.
Funding for the transition will come from CERF and divided into:
– High road transition collaboratives ($50 mill for regional grants)
– High road transition implementation pilots($50 mil in Diversification grants)
– High oad transition Implementation Grants ($500 mil on economic development – job creation)
Local governments wishing to be involved in the process are encouraged to engage by getting involved with collaboratives and by engaging in sustainability activities and economic development plans within their jurisdictions. They are also encouraged to join the OPR Just Transition listserv to receive updates from this program.

Contact Information
Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
Sarah L. White
Senior Advisor: Jobs and the Economy

Type of organization: State or Federal Agency

California Regions Served
Greater Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Central Coast, North Coast, Sacramento Valley, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, San Joaquin Valley
Best Practice Category(s)
Climate Planning, Sustainability, Grants Programs, Financing, Disadvantaged Communities
     Website
City and County of San Francisco LEED Gold Certification

City and County of San Francisco requires LEED Gold certification for all municipal building construction, both existing and new construction.

Contact Information
City and County of San Francisco

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Energy Saving Solutions for Public Agencies
     Website
City of Hayward Zero Net Energy Resolution

City of Hayward has a resolution requiring city buildings to be Zero Net Energy starting after 2020. All existing City of Hayward buildings which receive renovations exceeding 50% of the buildings’ value shall be ZNE. All other lesser improvements to work towards ZNE by 2030.

Contact Information
City of Hayward

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Energy Saving Solutions for Public Agencies, Building Decarbonization
     Website
County of San Mateo LEED Certification

County of San Mateo requires new county-owned construction projects over 10,000 square feet to be LEED certified, with at least 50% of available LEED Energy and Atmosphere points. In addition, these projects are required to be Zero Net Energy if feasible.

Contact Information
County of San Mateo

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Energy Saving Solutions for Public Agencies, Building Decarbonization
     Website
Marin County Low Carbon Concrete Code

Marin County has adopted a Low Carbon Concrete Code that requires the use of low carbon concrete in all building projects in order to address embodied carbon.

Contact Information
Marin County

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Building Decarbonization
     Website
San Diego County Zero Net Energy Portfolio Plan

San Diego County has developed a Zero Net Energy Portfolio Plan which includes requiring ZNE for all new facilities and major renovations, as well as reducing energy use and installing on-site renewable energy at existing sites.

Contact Information
San Diego County

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Diego
Best Practice Category(s)
Energy Saving Solutions for Public Agencies, Building Decarbonization
     Website
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

Re-invest Municipal Savings

One way sustainability staff can pay for themselves and other sustainability priorities is to track and account for the monetary value of energy, water, and fuel savings and reinvest them to continuously replenish dedicated accounts, which some local governments call a “revolving fund.” Alternatively, rather than calculating actual savings, local governments can make assumptions about the value generated and instead bill departments an additional surcharge on utility expenses. The idea is the same – these savings have value that can be captured and recirculated to help sustainability staff continue lowering operating costs.

County of San Luis Obispo Revolving Loan Fund

The County of San Luis Obispo is launching a revolving loan fund for energy efficiency projects with seed funding from a $2.2 million California Energy Commission (CEC) loan.

Contact Information
County of San Luis Obispo
Annie Secrest
Energy & Water Coordinator, Public Works

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Central Coast
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
Los Angeles County Internal Services Department Energy Bill Surcharge

The Los Angeles County Internal Services Department made a one-time decision to add a small percentage surcharge on departments’ energy bills to pay for staff and consultants tasked with lowering the County’s energy costs. As Howard Choy explains in a recent interview, this financial mechanism helped his sustainability team weather previous economic downturns and does not require annual budget appropriation.

Contact Information
Los Angeles County Internal Services Department

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Greater Los Angeles
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
  Recording   
SoCalREN Revolving Loan Fund

SoCalREN offers a revolving loan fund that provides loans for short-term construction costs meant to cover the remaining gap between construction costs and OBF loans. Repayments of loans by participating public agencies replenish the fund to support additional local energy efficiency upgrades.

Contact Information
SoCalREN

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Greater Los Angeles
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

Implement Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC)

ESPC is a budget-neutral approach to make building improvements that reduce energy and water use and increase operational efficiency. By partnering with an energy service company (ESCO), facility upgrades can be financed through Tax-Exempt Lease Purchase Agreements, capital leases, or General Obligation bonds. Essentially, today’s facility upgrades can be paid for by tomorrow’s energy savings without tapping into capital budgets. State and local governments can implement ESPC projects in their own facilities, as well as promote and support ESPC projects through ESPC programs.

When bundled together, measures with a short payback period, such as new HVAC controls or replacing less efficient lights with LEDs, can help finance measures with longer payback period measures such as wastewater equipment and other industrial equipment upgrades. Government facilities are ideal locations for ESPC projects as long-term ownership of facilities opens the potential for 10- to 20-year financing terms. Resource: The US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s State and Local Solutions Center provides guidance and resources to help communities understand how to implement ESPC.

Implementing ESPCs in Fremont, Mountain View and South San Francisco

The cities of Fremont, Mountain View, and South San Francisco have each engaged with the ESCO Syserco to implement ESPCs for their municipal building stock. To learn more about their respective projects, visit their case study pages.

Contact Information

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Energy Saving Solutions for Public Agencies, Financing
     Website
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

Levy New Taxes or Fees

Cities and counties have the authority to  create or increase taxes to generate new sources of revenue, such as utilizing a parcel tax to fund land conservation initiatives. A parcel tax, unlike a property tax, levies a flat tax on the parcel and does not take into account the size or value of the property. Parcel taxes can provide much-needed revenue for energy and climate projects when municipal budgets are restricted; however, special consideration is needed in how parcel taxes are structured as they can be highly regressive. Local governments may also tax or charge a fee to building projects for greenhouse gas emissions. A utility users’ tax (UUT) may be levied by municipalities to provide general fund revenue. The tax may be increased to generate funds for projects and programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Bay Area Parcel Tax

In June 2016, Bay Area voters agreed to a new $12-a-year parcel tax that would bring in $500 million over the next twenty years. This funding will support wetland restoration projects intended to reduce pollution of local waters, expand wildlife habitat, and shield communities from flooding.

Contact Information
Save the Bay, the Bay Area Council and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
City of Albany Measure DD

City of Albany proposed Measure DD to increase the UUT from 7 percent to 9.5 percent for electricity and gas and apply a tax to water service at 7.5 percent. The measure passed. The measure is estimated to generate an additional $675,600 in new revenues annually for the City.

Contact Information
City of Albany

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
City of Berkeley Measure HH

City of Berkeley proposed Measure HH in 2020 to increase the UUT from 7.5 percent to 10 percent for electricity and 12.5 percent for methane gas.85 Despite strong community support from a survey, the ballot measure was ultimately defeated.

Contact Information
City of Berkeley

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
City of San Luis Obispo Greenhouse Gas in-lieu Fee

In late 2019, the City of San Luis Obispo tentatively proposed a greenhouse gas in-lieu fee for new construction projects that installed fossil fuel consuming appliances, ranging from $6,013 for a typical single-family residence up to $89,000 for a 54,000 ft2 office.

Contact Information
City of San Luis Obispo

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Central Coast
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
City of Watsonville Carbon Fund Ordinance

City of Watsonville adopted a Carbon Fund Ordinance in 2015 that charges a fee to all development projects including new construction, additions, and alterations, with the exception of single-family alterations. The additional carbon impact fee is between 30 and 50 percent of the building permit fee. Projects may be refunded the fee if they install on-site renewable generation to offset the average annual electricity load.

Contact Information
City of Watsonville

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

Pursue Bond Measures

Governments issue bonds, and investors receive principal and fixed interest payments in return. Voter-approved fund generation mechanisms can affirm a community’s willingness to invest in climate and energy measures. Green bonds issued by municipal entities help finance projects with a positive climate impact, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. Funds can likely only be used for public buildings and infrastructure projects. Cities and counties can set aside a portion of a generalized obligation bond, ideally aligned with a jurisdictions adopted goals and objectives as outlined in a general plan or climate action plan. A portion of program funding can be reserved to fund the design, installation, purchase, user training and monitoring of energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects. Green bonds have higher transactional costs than conventional loans and have standards and certification for use of funds to qualify attaching the green label.

City of Albuquerque Bond Mandate

The City of Albuquerque adopted a mandate for a 3% set aside from the General Obligation Bond Program for the 3% for Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Set-A-Side for Capital Improvements to fund projects that reduce energy consumption in municipal buildings. Building upgrades are chosen by a committee of city fiscal and technical staff based on specific criteria such as return on investment and life cycle cost analysis. Department applications for building upgrades are submitted to the committee for consideration. A project cannot use more than 40% of the funding allocated to the Set-A-Side.

Contact Information
City of Albuquerque

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
DC Water Finances Clean River’s Project with Green Bond

In 2014, DC Water issued the first certified green bond to finance the administrative and implementation costs of the city’s Clean River’s project. Projects funded by municipal green bonds provide numerous environmental and social benefits including improved water quality, climate resiliency through flood mitigation, and increased biodiversity.

Contact Information
DC Water

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
Hayward Unified School District Bonds

Hayward Unified School District issued $20M in bonds for renewable energy and sustainability projects.

Contact Information
Hayward Unified School District

Type of organization: School District

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
Imperial Irrigation District Bonds

Imperial Irrigation District issued $65M in bonds for renewable energy projects.

Contact Information
Imperial Irrigation District

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Inland Empire
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
Sacramento Municipal Utility District Bonds

Sacramento Municipal Utility District issued $75M in bonds for green building projects.

Contact Information
SMUD

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Sacramento Valley
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

Leverage Pension Funds

Local government pensions can buy loans on the “secondary market”, which then get repaid into the pension fund. In addition to earning a return, public agencies can choose to invest in community projects with social benefits.

Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association Pension Funds

The Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association allocated millions of dollars from the pension fund, which is being leveraged to invest in community projects with social benefits, such as affordable rental construction, disaster recovery, and green infrastructure. The City continued this effort in the wake of COVID-19 after anticipating greater need for local capital during recovery.

Contact Information
Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Sacramento Valley
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

Grants, Incentives, And Other New Revenues from Ratepayers and other External Sources

Please see our funding database which points to dozens of grant sources ranging from HUD’s Community Development Block Grants and the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program to foundation and private funding.You can also check out:

Ratepayer Dollars

One significant source of funding for local sustainability initiatives in California includes dollars paid by electricity and gas utility consumers (“ratepayers”) through surcharges that were established to fund sustainable energy programs regulated under California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Ratepayer Dollars

One significant source of funding for local sustainability initiatives in California includes dollars paid by electricity and gas utility consumers (“ratepayers”) through surcharges that were established to fund sustainable energy programs regulated under California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Local governments can access these dollars in many ways, including the following:

  • Take advantage of rebates, incentives, or grants offered by an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU), a Regional Energy Network (REN), or a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) to offset the costs of municipal energy improvements. See specific opportunities in our funding database.
  • Enter a partnership agreement with an IOU, CCA, or REN to help implement local energy efficiency programs (multiple sectors).
  • Respond to a solicitation issued by an IOU, CCA, or REN to develop distributed energy resources or implement a program.
  • File a proposal directly to the CPUC to become a program administrator. For example, local agencies may file a business plan to establish a REN to administer regional-scale energy efficiency programs across multiple sectors.
  • A more complex but particularly fruitful way to access electricity-related revenues is to complete all CPUC requirements to establish a CCA program. Local agencies can establish CCAs to procure preferred sources of power on behalf of the electricity accounts within the jurisdiction. CCAs receive revenues from electricity customers which can be used to purchase greener power and/or develop local renewable energy. CCAs also request to administer regional-scale energy efficiency programs.
  • Similarly, water utility providers often offer rebates or incentives to offset the cost of water efficiency improvements.
Grants

Outside of ratepayer dollars, local governments are eligible for various climate and energy related grant opportunities, which may come from surprising sources ranging from public health or emergency agencies to foundations.

Outside of ratepayer dollars, local governments are eligible for various climate and energy related grant opportunities, which may come from surprising sources ranging from public health or emergency agencies to foundations. Under the new Biden administration, future federal economic stimulus appropriations could seek to spur economy recovery while also tackling sustainability and climate change priorities, much like the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act under President Obama. In California, Governor Newsom has made aggressive commitments to accelerate climate action and transportation electrification, which may prompt new funding opportunities on top of high dollar State granting programs like the Climate Change Investment program, funded by billions in cap-and-trade auction revenues. Now is an important time to be tracking and pursuing these opportunities and readying eligible and competitive sustainability projects and programs. These efforts can elicit millions in new revenue to support projects like adding green space, drafting a new plan, or developing a microgrid for critical facilities. See local examples. Visit our Funding Database

Partners for Places Grant – Los Angeles

In 2014, Los Angeles received a $50,000 Partners for Places grant (along with match funding from the California Community Foundation and The California Endowment) to support equitable transit-oriented projects. The funds went toward the city’s Great Street’s Initiative, which focuses on coordinating city resources, building relationships with communities, and leveraging additional resources to revitalize local communities.

Contact Information
City of Los Angeles

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Greater Los Angeles
Best Practice Category(s)
Climate Planning, Grants Programs
     Website
Transformative Climate Communities Grant – City of Ontario

The City of Ontario received $35 million from through the California Strategic Growth Council’s Transformative Climate Communities grant to support its plans to uplift the downtown area in a way that has a profound impact on environmental, economic and health outcomes for local residents.

Contact Information
City of Ontario

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Greater Los Angeles
Best Practice Category(s)
Grants Programs, Financing
     Website
View more best practices in the funding database here.

Tap Into Financing

With budgets stretched thin, the upfront costs of desired capital improvement and other municipal projects may exceed available resources. Sustainability professionals can also investigate and pursue numerous options to projects like those showcased below. We also recommend reviewing DOE’s Better Building Financing Navigator.

On-BIll Financing

Offered by all Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) in California, OBF loans are 0% interest and monthly payments are aligned with the expected energy cost savings to come from the upgrades…

Offered by all Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) in California, OBF loans are 0% interest and monthly payments are aligned with the expected energy cost savings to come from the upgrades.  Since 2015, California IOUs issued $157 M in OBF loans with a 0.06% default rate.  PG&E, for example, offers on-bill financing with and without rebates to nonresidential customers within PG&E territory. This financing provides zero interest, zero penalty loans and eliminates up-front costs. The loans are repaid based on projected energy savings through installments on the customer’s PG&E bill. Customers may install the equipment themselves or hire a contractor to perform the work. PG&E may need to inspect the site before the old equipment is removed and may perform another inspection upon project completion.   Loan terms include 0% financing with loan periods of up to 120 months. Project energy savings must be more than $1,000 per year. Financing amounts from $5,000 to $250,000 of the project cost, after incentives and is available to fund many energy efficient technology upgrades, including LED lighting, refrigeration, HVAC, food service and LED streetlight projects. Loans up to $4,000,000 may be available for projects where a unique opportunity to capture large energy savings exists. To qualify, a project’s total cost savings must be sufficient to repay the loan within the maximum loan term limits. Energy generation, such as rooftop solar, is not eligible under this product.

Local governments can play a role by encouraging participation in on-bill financing, utilizing on-bill financing for their own building retrofits, and by crafting policies that facilitate utility development and implementation of OBF programs. Currently, California IOUs dominate the OBF offerings space in the state, but municipal owned-utilities (MOUs) and electrical cooperatives have an opportunity to offer OBF programs for their customers, as is occurring in other states. 

California City 0% On-Bill Financing

California City used 0% on-bill financing, from Southern California Edison, to pay for a well pump retrofit. The improvement resulted in new infrastructure and $16,000 in annual energy savings, paying for itself in just three and a half years.

Contact Information
California City

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Sierra Nevada, San Joaquin Valley
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
City of Culver City On-Bill Financing

The City of Culver City used on-bill financing to finance a large energy efficiency project that included installation of a Energy Management System (EMS) at the Police Station, Senior Center, City Hall, Veterans Memorial Center, and Transportation Center and Interior and exterior lighting at select sites. The City received financing of $442,000, leaving $53,600 in expenses, however the project is anticipated to save at least $68,000 annually in savings, allowing the city to realize cost savings in as soon as 1-year.

Contact Information
City of Culver City

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Greater Los Angeles
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
Tariffed On-Bill Financing

Tariffed on-bill programs, based on the Water Upgrades Save (Previously called – Pay As You Save® or (PAYS®) system allows a utility to pay for cost-effective energy improvements at a specific residence… 

Tariffed on-bill programs, based on the Water Upgrades Save (Previously called – Pay As You Save® or (PAYS®) system allows a utility to pay for cost-effective energy improvements at a specific residence and to recover costs over time through a dedicated charge on the utility bill that is immediately less than the estimated savings from the improvements. This model has been successfully implemented in eight states by 18 utilities, including investor owned, cooperative, and municipal utilities. More than $30 million has been invested in energy efficiency and renewable upgrades at 5,000 locations.

Green Hayward PAYS® program

The City of Hayward’s Green Hayward PAYS® program allows multifamily property owners to get immediate savings on their water and energy utility bills by installing efficiency improvements with no up-front cost.

Contact Information
City of Hayward

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Energy Saving Solutions for Residential
     Website
Windsor Energy PAYS® program

The Town of Windsor’s Windsor Energy PAYS® program allows residents and businesses to finance water and energy saving upgrades with no up-front cost and immediate savings on utility bills. Average customer savings amount to $30 per utility bill, 10% reduction in energy use, and 20% reduction in indoor water use, generating estimated annual savings of 9.2 million gallons of water, 88,000 kWh, and 25,000 therms.

Contact Information
Town of Windsor

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
North Coast
Best Practice Category(s)
Energy Saving Solutions for Residential, Energy Saving Solutions for Businesses
     Website
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

California Hub for Energy Efficiency Financing

California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA) creates innovative, low-cost, pooled finance programs to respond to the fiscal needs of city and county participants…

California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA) creates innovative, low-cost, pooled finance programs to respond to the fiscal needs of city and county participants. The program is designed to address short-term borrowing needs, budget shortfalls, and provide access to capital for critical infrastructure improvements. City and county participants control all private activity bond issues through required local public hearings.  https://cscda.org/Public-Agency-Programs/

IBank

California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank (IBank) was created in 1994 to finance public infrastructure and private development that promote a healthy climate for jobs, contribute to a strong economy… 

California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank (IBank) was created in 1994 to finance public infrastructure and private development that promote a healthy climate for jobs, contribute to a strong economy, and improve the quality of life in California communities. Local governments finance energy efficiency projects by leveraging IBank’s California Lending for Energy and Environmental Needs (CLEEN) Center, which offers two programs:

  • Statewide Energy Efficiency Program (SWEEP) for comprehensive efficiency improvements to new and existing facilities that save energy. Eligible projects include advanced metering systems, energy management and/or control systems, demand response programs, lighting and control systems, HVAC systems, building envelope improvements, and more.
  • Light Emitting Diode Street Lighting Program (LED) for the installation of LED street lights.
CEC ECAA – Low-Interest Loans

The CEC Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA) Low Interest Loan Program provides 1% interest loans…

The CEC Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA) Low Interest Loan Program provides 1% interest loans to cities, counties, special districts, public colleges and universities, public care institutions, and public hospitals to finance energy efficiency and energy generation projects throughout California. Example projects include: lighting system upgrades, pumps and motors, streetlights and LED traffic signals, energy management systems and equipment controls, building insulation, energy generation including renewable and combined-heat-and-power projects, HVAC equipment, water and wastewater treatment equipment, and load-shifting projects, such as thermal energy storage. Jurisdictions looking to include energy generation in their project might be a good fit for this program, since energy efficiency and generation are eligible for this financing product. The maximum loan amount is $3 million and there is no minimum amount. Energy efficiency projects must be technically and economically feasible.1% loans for energy projects: The loan can fund 100% of the project cost within a 17-year (maximum) simple payback. The loan must be repaid from energy savings (including principal and interest) within a maximum of 20 years.  The repayment schedule is based on the estimated annual energy cost savings from the project.  

Clean Water State Revolving Fund

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program is a federal-state partnership that provides communities low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects.

Microgrid Incentive Program

Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison Company will hold a series of stakeholder workshops during Summer 2021 to help shape the development of a Microgrid Incentive Program (MIP) approved earlier this year by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The program is intended to fund clean energy microgrids to support the critical needs of vulnerable populations impacted by grid outages.

Contact Information
Pacific Gas & Electric

Type of organization: IOU

California Regions Served
Greater Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Central Coast, North Coast, Sacramento Valley, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, San Joaquin Valley
Best Practice Category(s)
Climate Planning, Energy Resilience, Financing
The Inland Empire Utilities Agency Finances Green Infrastructure

The Inland Empire Utilities Agency received $30 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to support improvement projects related to recycled water, groundwater recharge, energy efficiency, and green infrastructure. I-Bank issues bonds for the CWSRF and operates the California Lending for Energy and Environmental Needs (CLEEN) Center and the Infrastructure State Revolving Fund (ISRF) Program.

Contact Information
The Inland Empire Utilities Agency

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Inland Empire
Best Practice Category(s)
Climate Planning, Sustainability, Financing
     Website
View more best practices in the funding data base here.

Tax-increment Financing

This mechanism operates on the assumption that the property values of an area will rise as a consequence of development. [xviii] The increase in value from developed properties is considered city revenue and, after the city fulfills obligations investors and bond-holders, can be used to support sustainability staff and projects

Atlanta Georgia Leverages Financing for Urban Redevelopment Program

Atlanta Georgia leveraged tax-increment financing (or in their case, a tax allocation district) to finance the Atlanta Beltline. This mechanism operates on the assumption that the property values of an area will rise as a consequence of development. The increase in value from developed properties is considered city revenue and, after the city fulfills obligations investors and bond-holders, can be used to support sustainability staff and projects. This $4.8 billion urban development project provides transportation access in addition to resilient revenue streams for the area and is expected to create 30,000 permanent jobs and 5,600 units of affordable workforce housing, among a number of other community and environmental benefits.

Contact Information
City of Atlanta

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing
     Website
PACE

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) provides opportunities for local governments to finance the upfront costs of energy upgrades with costs paid over time through voluntary assessments on their property tax bills…

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) provides opportunities for local governments to finance the upfront costs of energy upgrades with costs paid over time through voluntary assessments on their property tax bills. The cost savings realized from energy efficiency improvements can cover the increased tax bill. By utilizing PACE, local governments can reduce the initial upfront cost of a large retrofit project, making it more affordable and less susceptible to short-term budget constraints, and without putting general funds at risk. Additionally, the PACE model can be promoted to residential and commercial property owners to generate further energy saving and economic benefits. California is one of 3 states that offers Resident PACE (R-PACE).  Over 47,000 residential PACE assessments worth nearly $960 million have occured in California. 

Leveraging Partnerships and In-kind Support

In addition to generating new revenue, knowledgeable sustainability staff can leverage non-monetary support provided by public, private, and nonprofit partners to build capacity and reduce the time commitment and investments needed to advance local sustainability goals.

Public-private Partnerships

Public-private partnerships provide opportunities for local municipalities to partner with private entities in order to successfully finance infrastructure or community development projects in the sustainability space…

Multi-sector Partnership In Souther Bay Area Finance Improvements to Water Treatment Station

A 2015 multi-sector partnership between the City of Sunnyvale, Apple, Cal-Water, California Department of Water Resources, and Santa Clara Valley Water District culminated in a $17.5 million capital project that financed improvements at the water treatment station for recycled and reclaimed water. This 10-year project ensures that the water supply for Cupertino and surrounding areas will continue to meet the freshwater needs of the community.

Contact Information
Santa Clara Valley Water District

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Sustainability, Financing, Partnerships
     Website
New York Start-up Leverages Partnership to fund Microgrid Network

A New York start-up LO3 Energy leveraged group purchasing to fund the Brooklyn Microgrid network, which allows individuals to buy and sell renewable energy in a peer-to-peer network. This both increased community resilience to frequent power outages and supports local economic development while reducing the community’s carbon footprint.

Contact Information
LO3

Type of organization: NGO

California Regions Served
Best Practice Category(s)
Financing, Partnerships
     Website

Public-private partnerships provide opportunities for local municipalities to partner with private entities in order to successfully finance infrastructure or community development projects in the sustainability space. These partnerships enable sustainability staff to overcome initial budget hurdles by leveraging private capital to fulfill public commitments and ensure that local resources are resilient to unpredictable financial and physical climates. Community Land Trusts are another example of public private partnerships. CLTs are nonprofit organizations with community-led governing structures that hold land in trust for the benefit of the community, often providing and preserving affordable housing, stewarding community amenities like parks and greenspace, and providing low-cost commercial properties that can support small businesses and economic resilience. A report by the Georgetown Climate Center provides an overview of how community land trusts (CLTs) can present a solution to help cities mitigate both of these challenges by promoting community ownership and decision making and providing permanently affordable and resilient housing.

Group Purchasing

Group purchasing supports city and community sustainability projects by leveraging collective purchasing power to reduce upfront administrative and installation costs for new projects. This reduces the burden on sustainability staff to fund and manage projects with limited resources while still contributing to the city’s sustainability goals.

The Regional Renewable Energy Procurement Project (R-REP)

The Regional Renewable Energy Procurement Project (R-REP) is a collaborative effort by local governments within the San Francisco Bay Area to purchase solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for on-site generation at public facilities. Procuring these systems collaboratively addresses some of the resource limitations and lack of expertise that pose significant barriers to renewable energy adoption by local governments. Led by the County of Alameda, R-REP includes 186 sites owned by 19 public agencies. These projects have the potential to generate approximately 31 megawatts of renewable power (that’s the equivalent of the annual energy use of 6,188 average sized homes in the Bay Area) at sites such as community centers, libraries, fire stations, medical facilities, city halls and educational facilities.

Contact Information

Type of organization: Local Government or Regional Agency

California Regions Served
San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practice Category(s)
Partnerships
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Subsidized Staffing

In-kind support like subsidized staffing can enhances local capacity by addressing community resilience needs and providing a low-cost way… 

In-kind support like subsidized staffing can enhances local capacity by addressing community resilience needs and providing a low-cost way to keep sustainability initiatives moving forward. Programs like CivicSpark, a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps Program, have provided over 518,000 hours of services in crucial areas such as climate change, water management, affordable housing, and mobility.

Technical Assistance

Obtaining free or low-cost technical assistance, trainings, or informational resources from external subject-matter experts is another way to build capacity on a range of sustainability topics… 

Obtaining free or low-cost technical assistance, trainings, or informational resources from external subject-matter experts is another way to build capacity on a range of sustainability topics while easing the burden on internal staff that may have had time reallocated to other needs. The California Climate and Energy Collaborative provides Technical Assistance as well as a directory of other technical assistance providers, such as SoCalREN’s Energy Efficiency Project Delivery Program, the National League of Cities’ Leadership in Community Resilience Program, the State’s California Climate Investments Technical Assistance Program, the Tri-County Regional Energy Network (3C-REN)’s Energy Code Connect program. and the BayREN Municipal Zero Net Energy/Zero Net Carbon Assistance program.

Regulatory Support

Finally, there are organizations that can help overburdened local governments participate in policy and regulatory proceedings and track other key updates in the sustainability field…

Finally, there are organizations that can help overburdened local governments participate in policy and regulatory proceedings and track other key updates in the sustainability field. For example, the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition (LGSEC) is a statewide membership network representing local government energy and climate interests to state agencies such as CPUC, CEC, and CARB and encourages knowledge sharing and partnerships within its network. The Statewide Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator also curates a wEEkly Update on energy and climate news for subscribers like California local energy professionals.

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