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Climate Action Plan Blog Series: Funding and Financing Building Electrification

Catch up on the February Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP) Ad Hoc Committee discussion

Each month, the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP) Ad Hoc Committee will delve into various topics related to the S/CAP Update — the City’s roadmap of strategies needed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by 2030 and other community-wide sustainability goals. The Ad Hoc Committee guides the development, implementation, communication, and future community engagement of the S/CAP Update.

Read on in this blog to learn more about the February 10, 2022 S/CAP Ad Hoc meeting, which focused on funding and financing building electrification.


At the February 10, 2022 Ad Hoc meeting, funding and financing building electrification was discussed and experts from Clean Energy Works and the California Hub for Energy Efficiency Financing shared details on financing available. Approaches to financing individual electrification projects have historically not been inclusive; Dr. Hummel presented information about utilizing Inclusive Utility Investments. Miriam Joffee-Black presented about how Public-Private Partnerships are another option for financing building electrification through a state-run program called GoGreen. Last, working to identify and explore innovative funding sources for the City to implement its Draft S/CAP Three-Year Work Plan and full community-scale S/CAP effort rounded out the February meeting.

Learn more about the meeting presentations and community input below.


Dr. Holmes Hummel, Founder and Executive Director of Clean Energy Works, presented inclusive financial solutions for building energy upgrades. A summary of her presentation is provided below.

Reducing carbon emissions through the use of low carbon power sources — or decarbonization — is a critical strategy for meeting sustainability and climate action goals. The most familiar financial solutions for building energy upgrades have not historically been inclusive, fiscally sustainable, or scalable. Even when residents pursue energy upgrades, upfront costs pose a significant barrier to making these energy upgrades with over 50% of all US households lacking the necessary assets and qualifications to obtain loans. Inclusive utility investments and Pay as You Save systems provide additional funding options for individuals to upgrade their building’s energy.

By providing upfront cost payment to purchase the energy efficiency upgrades, the utility ensures the building gets the needed upgrade(s) without requiring the person who owns or lives in the premise to pay for the high upfront costs. The utility then gets repaid by a fixed charge on the customer’s utility bill that is less than the estimated savings from the upgrade so that the customer enjoys a lower energy bill from day one.

To make an inclusive utility investment, the utility assesses the energy savings potential of the home, rather than the customer’s financial liquidity or creditworthiness. Inclusive utility investments bypass loans, credit checks and prevents debt for the customer willing to upgrade their energy since the cost recovery obligations are tied to the utility meter rather than the customer. And, everyone can participate regardless of whether someone rents or owns a place.

Learn more about inclusive financial solutions for building energy upgrades by watching Dr. Hummel’s full presentation here.

Read the Building Decarbonization Coalition’s policy roadmap of accessible financing solutions here.


Miriam Joffe-Block, Senior Manager at the California Hub for Energy Efficiency Financing (CHEEF) discussed the state-run private financing pilot program called GoGreen Financing. A summary of this presentation is shared below.

CHEEF, which was created to leverage private investment in energy efficient retrofits. It facilitates public-private partnerships among state agencies and investor-owned utilities to support retrofits for homeowners, businesses, and multi-family units.

There is not enough utility ratepayer or public funds to pay for needed building investments in Palo Alto or California to reach the City’s and State’s building energy savings and GHG reduction goals. In 2013, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) established financing pilot programs to address this issue. The pilot programs seek to determine whether financing can yield the same type of energy savings as traditional utility rebates and incentives. Additionally, the pilot programs test how on-bill repayment, which customers repay via monthly utility bills, may encourage program uptake and improve loan performance.

These pilot programs are known as GoGreen Financing. Three different programs are currently available that include GoGreen Home for owners or renters of single-family residences, GoGreen Business for small businesses and nonprofits, and GoGreen Multifamily for affordable multi-family building owners. Through these programs, California residents and business owners can connect with participating contractors and finance companies in an online marketplace designed to make energy efficiency upgrades simple and attainable. Customers benefit by accessing financing at attractive rates and terms that allow them to upgrade their buildings, reduce energy usage, and help to improve comfort and indoor air quality. Credit enhancement allows finance companies to approve financing for a wider base of borrowers than they otherwise could — like homeowners with lower credit scores or small businesses with only a few years of operating history.

Watch Joffee-Block’s full presentation and learn more about Go-Green Financing here.


The City of Palo Alto is researching funding sources for the Draft S/CAP Three-Year Work Plan as well as the entire S/CAP. Preliminary research shows that the most effective way to use funding for building electrification is to finance up-front costs with private capital and provide repayment assistance using available funding sources, like the models described above. Potential funding sources include electric and gas revenue related to the State’s Cap and Trade program, funds related to the State’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard funds, public benefits, and transportation grants.

Learn more about City funding and financing options here.

Find City electrification rebates, programs and more information here.

The February 10 meeting presentation slides can be found here.


The Ad Hoc meeting scheduled for March 10, 2022 has been cancelled. You can provide input by taking the S/CAP survey or submitting comments/questions to

The next scheduled meeting will take place on April 14 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Register for the April Ad Hoc meeting here.


  • Sign up to receive the monthly Sustainability Newsletter here.
  • For details on the City’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan and all S/CAP Ad Hoc meeting material go to:
  • Read the first blog to learn more about the S/CAP Ad Hoc Committee and other sustainability programs available to the community today
  • Read the second blog in the series to learn about electrifying appliances in single-family residential buildings
  • Read the third blog in the series to learn about non-residential building electrification
  • Read the fourth blog in the series to learn about electric vehicles (EVs) and EV Chargers
  • Read the fifth blog in the series to learn about mobility and land use
  • Read the sixth blog in the series to learn about climate impacts from wildfires and sea level rise
  • For more on the City’s Electrification programs, go here:
  • For more on the City’s Green Building Program including Trainings, go here.
  • We welcome your input through the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan Update Survey.



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