For some California farmers and ranchers who are interested investing in energy efficiency upgrades, the launch of the CaliforniaFIRST program in late September could be welcome news: no upfront cost necessary as long as the property owner agrees to repay the cost of the improvements through an annual property tax assessment lasting up to 20 years.
As the nation’s largest property assessed clean energy (PACE) program, the CaliforniaFIRST program is developed in an effort to help owners of office, multi-family residential (5 or more units), retail, industrial, and agriculture properties in 14 counties and 126 cities in California reduce energy and water use. The new program is backed by $250 million of private capital, and according to Renewable Funding, the CaliforniaFIRST program administrator, it covers a wide range of energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy upgrades, including but not limited to insulation, rooftop PV, and grey water systems.
“Commercial PACE gives businesses a great option for pursuing energy efficiency projects that may have previously been out of reach,” says San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “The County’s partnership with CaliforniaFIRST provides a mechanism for participants to start spending less money on energy bills and more back into the business.”
Considering the role agriculture plays in the state’s economy and its potential for energy and cost savings, CalCAN sees CaliforniaFIRST as an opportunity to finance energy efficiency projects in the agriculture sector, especially for growers in need of financial support to increase efficiency of their operations. Furthermore, because energy efficiency measures and on-farm renewable energy production can reduce GHG emissions while providing energy and cost savings, the CaliforniaFIRST program also provides a way for agriculture producers to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
More information about the CaliforniaFIRST program and the regions where it is available can be found at https://californiafirst.org/overview.