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April 12, 2018

Durkan boosts incentives for energy retrofits

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan yesterday signed into law two bills that are intended to make commercial buildings in the city more energy efficient.

The bills allow Seattle City Light to offer additional incentives to building owners in exchange for energy-saving retrofits.

The first law expands City Light's Energy Efficiency as a Service pilot program, which directs energy savings to building owners who pay for energy-efficiency retrofits.

A news release from the city says the program aims to protect tenants from increased energy bills while incentivizing building owners to make the improvements.

Incentives come from rebates based on actual energy saved. The city says the program is geared to overcome building owners' reluctance to undertake costly energy efficiency improvements by ensuring predictable rates of return on their investments.

Up to 30 buildings can participate in the program, with contract lengths of up to 20 years.

The second law extends City Light's Pay for Performance program, which provides incentive payments over time for energy efficiency performance. Payments are based on verified energy efficiency, rather than estimated costs upfront.

The Pay for Performance program simplifies the incentive into a single payment schedule for total energy saved, rather than multiple separate payments, allowing for flexible and creative projects while maximizing the incentive for energy savings.

The new law extends contracts under the Pay for Performance program from two to seven years. The city says longer contracts will create more certainty for building owners and better incentives to improve energy efficiency.

A new report from the city called Seattle Climate Action says the energy used to heat, cool and power buildings in Seattle accounted for about one-third of the city's greenhouse gas emissions. It's about evenly split between residential and commercial buildings.