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Program Fee Waived with Water Improvements

mPOWER is committed to helping its customers save water and money during the drought. The processing fee is being waived for all applications received between May1st – October 31, 2015 if $1,500 in water efficiency upgrades or more are included in the project. That’s a $500 (residential) or $1,300 (non-residential) savings!

Water conservation improvements that can be financed include low-flow toilets, high efficiency nozzles and faucets, drip irrigation systems, improved hot water delivery, and lawn replacement with artificial turf. Applications can also include improvements such as tankless water heaters and weather-based smart-controllers for irrigation systems.

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Commercial Projects – Lowest Cost Provider

Did you know that mPOWER financing is the lowest cost PACE financing for commercial projects in the Sacramento Region? That’s right! mPOWER provides financing for all non-residential projects at a fixed interest rate of 6% regardless of the payback period. In addition, the financing fees are fixed and disclosed upfront. All non-residential applications incur a $1,300 processing fee plus other passthrough fees such as recording and title fees, as well as a $25 annual fee.

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Folsom Lake Ford Signed $1.6 Million Energy Efficiency Retrofit Contract

February 23, 2015
Folsom, CA – Folsom Lake Ford expects to save big on a $1.6 million energy efficiency retrofit and solar project made available through the City of Folsom’s green energy financing program, mPOWER Folsom.
The retrofit—one of the largest of its kind in the Sacramento Region— is the first commercial energy efficiency retrofit financed through mPOWER Folsom.
Folsom’s program is part of Placer County’s mPOWER program, which has funded more than $27 million in energy retrofit and solar PV projects in Placer County, including the cities of Lincoln, Rocklin, Roseville, Loomis and Colfax since August 2013.
The $1.6 million financed through mPOWER Folsom will be used to install new LED lighting, a new cool roof, an HVAC system, and 402 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic generation at the Folsom Lake Ford and KIA dealerships in the Folsom Automall. The solar installation alone is expected to save the dealership approximately $60,000 annually, or $1.5 million over the next 25 years after all costs have been recovered.

“The mPOWER program is an excellent example of local governments working effectively and collaboratively to achieve win-win, mutually beneficial green energy goals,” said Mayor Andy Morin. “Property owners save money and the City is able to achieve green energy policy goals and meet greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements.”
“Business owners tell us how the utility savings have increased their profit margins and homeowners have told us how the utility savings have increased their disposable income,” said Kirk Uhler, Chairman of the Placer County Board of Supervisors and Executive Director of the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance.
City of Folsom officials worked with Placer County to bring the County’s highly successful mPOWER program to Folsom in March 2014.

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Energy Benchmarking – Are You Ready?

On July 11, 2012 the California Energy Commission adopted benchmarking requirements for nonresidential buildings in accordance with Assembly Bills 1103 and 531. Under the new laws the building owner or operator will be required to disclose energy usage data to a prospective buyer or lessee of the entire building, or a prospective lender financing the entire building. This information will be gathered by using an energy benchmarking system.

Why is energy benchmarking so important?
Energy benchmarking allows a building owner or operator to compare their building’s performance to that of similar buildings and determine how to manage energy costs.

Who will benefit from energy benchmarking?
Building owners and operators can use the energy consumption data to identify areas that need to improve efficiency, resulting in reduced energy costs, increased property value and increased comfort for the building occupants. Prospective buyers and lessees will be better able to estimate operational costs of the building.

How do I get started?
At least 30 days before a building is sold, leased, or financed the building owner must open an account at the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star® program Portfolio Manager website. The following basic information will be requested: building owner’s name, email address, name and address of the building, year built, all sources of energy use data for the most recent 12 months, and a request that all utility and energy providers to release energy use data for the most recent 12 months.

Implementation Timetable:
Buildings Greater than 50,000 sq. ft. – January 1, 2013
Buildings 10,000 – 50,000 sq. ft. – July 1, 2013
Buildings 5,000 – 10,000 sq. ft. – January 2014

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$2 Million in Savings

$2 Million in savings is projected over the next 25 years from the 1.7 acre, 450 panel solar photovoltaic system installed at North Auburn’s Gold Country RV Park . The nearly $500,000 project secured financing from mPOWER in mid February, with approximately $330,000 coming from mPOWER financing and $150,000 from a Federal tax grant. To further reduce the initial cost of the system, park owner John Grant anticipates additional tax and depreciation savings.

The 66-site park is located on K.O.A. Way off Highway 49 in North Auburn and operates at near capacity year round. “We’re a big-rig park and those big RVs draw lots of power,” said Grant. Adding, “We’re able to achieve carbon-pollution offsets because the power we consume with the solar system doesn’t have to be generated elsewhere.” Approximately 60 percent of the park’s electrical needs are expected to be provided by the system.

Prior to installation of the solar photovoltaic system the park owner completed a number of retrofit projects, including several HVAC units and interior lighting in the recently remodeled clubhouse, and a new pool heater and pump.

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Energy Efficiency Training Program

PG&E is currently offering a fantastic, no-cost opportunity to attend training workshops in energy auditing and efficiency. These workshops will provide specific education in energy efficiency and alternative energy technologies that can open up new business opportunities for contractors, electricians and builders. Collaborative workshops will take place on location in Auburn. For those of you who cannot attend workshops in person, there are also many classes available online.

Be sure to register early as availability is limited. To search for classes in your area, or register for a class, please visit pge.com or call 800-244-9912.

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Solar Tax Benefits for 2011 & 2012

Making the switch to solar energy can be a great way to save the environment and help your clients save on utility costs. As a bonus Uncle Sam will help pay the costs! The government and state utilities continue to offer lucrative income tax credits and cash incentives to non-residential property owners who install solar photovoltaic systems.

The IRS offers a tax credit that is equal to 30% of expenditures related to solar installations, with no maximum on the credit amount. This credit will remain available for all eligible systems placed in service on or before December 31, 2016. In addition, for 2011 and 2012, the IRS is allowing 100% and 50% bonus depreciation respectively. This means your taxable income and tax brackets will dictate your direct tax savings from depreciation, but in most cases should result in significant additional first year savings.

Various state utility programs offer cash incentives as well. For example, SMUD and Roseville Electric offer cash rebates through their Expected Performance Based Incentive (EPBI) program and the Performance Based Incentive (PBI) program. In most cases, customers that install solar have the choice of picking either a one-time, up-front rebate based upon the expected performance of your system or continuous rebates based upon actual production of your system over a 5 or 10 year period. Both of these programs significantly reduce the cost of solar installations and should be secured immediately. Each program’s rebates begin to decline as the utility installation targets are met.

If your client is one of the lucky taxpayers that began a solar installation in 2011, they may still be eligible for the expired Federal Section 1603 “Grant in Lieu of Tax Credit”. This program provides a 30% cash refund of the system’s installation costs paid within 60 days of placing your system in service. This refund is in lieu of claiming the income tax credits. It is beneficial for taxpayers who do not have a large income tax liability and cannot utilize all of the tax credits immediately. To qualify for this program, the system must have been 5% completed by December 31, 2011.

Tax year 2012 still looks to be a good year for businesses. With proper planning, purchasing a solar energy system can be a valuable and cost-effective business investment. By securing Federal/State incentives and reducing current electric bills, it is possible to see a complete return on investment in 3 – 5 years. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

This article was provided by
Sherif Boctor, CPA
PSG Certified Public Accountants
Phone: 916-791-3120
Email: sboctor@psgcpas.com

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T12 Lamp Phase Out

In a move to eliminate less efficient T12 fluorescent systems from U.S. markets, the Department of Energy has mandated the phase out of the T12 fluorescent lamps and ballasts. Beginning July 1, 2010 magnetic ballasts used in T12 fixtures, are no longer being produced for commercial and industrial applications. Continuing the phase out, many T12 lamps will be phased out of production beginning July 2012.

What does this phase out plan mean for you? In order to keep up with federal regulations of energy efficiency, manufacturers will turn their focus to T8 and T5 systems, making the availability of T12 systems progressively less. There may also be an increase in the cost of the T12 systems due to limited supply.

Regulations such as the T12 phase out mandate can create financial hardships for commercial building owners, but there are ways to mitigate the expenses associated with replacement of the old equipment. Rebates from your local energy provider can help offset the costs associated with fixture replacement; but the benefits don’t stop there. The new fixtures will guarantee energy savings, which translates to money savings, in the years to come. Contact your local utility provider to find out more.

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Since When is Getting Audited Good News?

The answer is: when it’s an energy audit. You’ve heard the old adage, “Knowledge is Power”? That couldn’t be truer than in the case of identifying how a building is losing energy. This knowledge can give you the power to save money on your energy bills. When a professional energy audit is completed it’s easy to see, not only where your building is losing energy (resulting in higher energy costs), but how quickly you can recover the costs of energy improvements. This knowledge enables the owner to make informed decisions and see immediate results. Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than instant gratification.

The problem for many business property owners is that they lack the time to invest in learning about new technologies, what works best for their building and how to implement them. Perhaps they don’t know anything about energy audits, who performs them and what they cost. The good news is that, even though there are companies that specialize in energy audits and others that offer them as one of their services, many utility providers offer FREE energy audits.

This is good news, not only for property owners, but contractors. For contractors, utilizing the information provided by one of these free energy audits can be a powerful sales tool without incurring up-front costs. Whether the building can benefit from sealing leaks in walls and ceilings, adding high efficiency lights, adding insulation or installing a high efficiency water heater, an energy audit can reveal simple cost-effective ways to reduce energy consumption. By coupling that information with available rebates from the utility provider, your client will see that you have the foresight to look for easy, low cost ways of saving them money. This approach can free up capital that your client can invest in larger ticket items that are also needed, thus, reducing the overall payback period.

Oftentimes the energy saved will be more than the cost of the improvement.

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Interview with Congressman Lungren and Jenine Windeshausen

KTKZ 1380’s Eric Hogue hosted MPOWER’s Jenine Windeshausen and Congressman Dan Lungren on his weekday radio show, Capitol Hour, on January 10th. The two guests had the opportunity to share with Capitol Hour listeners the economic and environmental benefits of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs, ones like mPOWER. Last year, Congressman Lungren, along with Representatives Nan Hayworth (NY) and Mike Thompson (CA), introduced the PACE Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 2599) to allow local communities to establish, and in some cases re-establish, residential PACE programs. To date, the legislation has more than 50 co-authors showing broad support for the voluntary clean energy financing programs.

Congressman highlighted the job creation opportunities that could exist if PACE programs were fully operational, especially for the construction industry which has been decimated by the economic recession. The guests also discussed other benefits including increasing property values, providing utility savings and reducing carbon gas emissions. Click here to listen to the radio interview.

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