Tahoe Basin business saves money, helps environment through county’s mPOWER Program

Published on October 29, 2015

TAHOE CITY, Calif. – How do older properties in the Tahoe basin transform themselves into models of efficiency; conserving energy, saving money and creating jobs? They mPOWER!

The Granlibakken Resort and Conference Center in Tahoe City needed to make energy efficiency improvements to an aging system of boilers, inefficient heating and cooling systems and kitchen equipment. However, performing a commercial energy audit would mean a costly hit to their budget. 

Through an innovative collaboration between Placer County’s mPOWER program, a Property Assessed Clean Energy program, and the Sierra Business Council, Granlibakken was able to replace their obsolete, inefficient systems and equipment with new, energy-efficient models, while also installing new, more efficient, automated heating and air conditioning systems.  They were even able to roll the high, upfront cost of their energy audit into their financing. With the improvements now complete, Granlibakken expects to experience at least a 43 percent reduction in energy use, and a savings of up to $44,000 a year.

“Through this process, businesses can avoid the upfront costs of a commercial energy audit which can be $20,000 to $30,000,” said Greg Jones, Vice President of Operations for the Sierra Business Council. “Instead of requiring upfront money, the cost of the energy audit can be folded into the financing with the project design and implementation.” 

The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized mPOWER for its leadership in improving energy efficiency, and honored the Granlibakken project as a Better Buildings Challenge showcase project.

“Through mPOWER, Placer County helps local businesses make energy efficiency improvements that increase profit margins, while taking a positive step for the environment,” said Jenine Windeshausen, Placer County Treasurer Tax Collector and mPOWER program administrator. “The mPOWER program helps our communities by saving money, conserving energy and creating jobs.” 

mPOWER is available to all Placer County residents, providing low-cost financing for energy efficiency and water conservation projects.  Financing is repaid through an assessment on the property tax bill for the useful life of the improvement, between five and 20 years.

Many property owners have already taken advantage of mPOWER, replacing windows, insulation, upgrading pool equipment, installing solar and improving lighting. In addition to residential homes and Granlibakken, other commercial projects have included medical offices, motels, mobile home parks, nurseries, car dealerships, gas stations and more.  

As of Sept. 30, 2015, mPOWER has funded 1,075 projects for a total $34 million.