San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced today more than $19 million in federal and state funding for energy efficiency programs in the city that are reducing costs and creating green jobs for local residents and businesses.
More than half of the $19.2 million announced today will fund the San Francisco Energy Watch program, which offers free on-site assessments of energy savings at homes and businesses in the city, as well as the installation of energy-efficient equipment at reduced costs.
The rest of the funding, about $7.7 million, is federal stimulus dollars awarded for energy efficiency programs in municipal buildings such as Davies Symphony Hall, where Newsom made today’s announcement.
Retrofits, such as replacing old lights on the building’s marquee with LED lights, are expected to save the symphony hall nearly $45,000 this year.
“It’s become such a cliche but it’s absolutely true that the most effective thing we can do in terms of our global footprint is to address the issue by changing light bulbs, by making more efficient the use of our air conditioning units, or our boilers at home,” Newsom said.
“That’s the most significant thing we can do that pays the biggest dividends in the shortest period of time,” he said.
The retrofitting efforts throughout the city are expected to generate nearly $3 million in energy savings each year.
Ed Harrington, general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, said the work was an example of how “conservation is always the first and best thing” that can be done to be more environmentally friendly.
Along with the stimulus money, the city received $11.5 million for the Energy Watch program, which is funded through the Public Goods Charge, a monthly fee energy consumers pay to the California Public Utilities Commission that goes toward energy efficiency projects.
The Energy Watch program has delivered more than 2,000 retrofits to businesses and multi-family housing units in San Francisco, and Newsom encouraged more local business owners or homeowners to utilize the program by calling 311 and asking how to get a free energy audit.
He said the program will “reduce the cost of government at the same time as we’re reaching out throughout the diverse communities of San Francisco.”
The energy efficiency programs have been aided by employees from JobsNow, a stimulus-funded program created by the city to help get unemployed people back to work. The employees were trained to introduce the Energy Watch program to local businesses.
Overall, the JobsNow program has put nearly 1,700 unemployed San Franciscans back to work, according to Newsom.
“These are the green collar jobs we all talk about,” he said. “Everyone talks about the green collar economy, this is it. These are the jobs of the future.”