How Trade Pros can make their customers’ energy efficiency projects a reality by helping them secure 0% financing from PG&E

outside of school building

For Stu Stoddard, Director of Support Services for Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD), PG&E’s zero interest, no money down Energy Efficiency Financing program (also known as On-Bill Financing or OBF) “was one way for our facilities to make money for the school system”.  The energy savings on the district’s utility bill are applied to finance new energy efficient equipment. The District not only lowers its operating and maintenance costs, but continues to benefit from the lower utility bills after the loan is paid off. The District actually recaptures, and then exceeds its investment, as it conserves resources and helps the environment.

AUSD needed to implement lighting upgrades but faced a dilemma - they had to preserve their $117M school bond financing and Prop 39 funds committed for other improvements, so an alternate solution was needed.  They found it with PG&E’s Energy Efficiency Financing Program, which allowed them to secure over $550,000 in multiple loans at 0% interest for LED lighting upgrades at multiple locations.

AUSD hired EcoGreen Solutions (EGS), who provides turnkey solutions for its institutional, commercial, and other customers, and has done over 2,200 LED lighting retrofit projects.  Beginning with a comprehensive energy audit of baseline usage, EGS then crafted a proposal based on prioritized energy and maintenance savings for the district.  Being a PG&E Trade Professional Alliance member, EGS was able to not only submit the rebate application on behalf of the customer, but also facilitate the process of securing the financing for them by working with PG&E.  EGS then installed high efficiency LED lighting in the parking lots and on the exterior of multiple school and non-academic buildings.  The 0% financing provided AUSD with multiple benefits such as:

  • Offset of upfront project costs.
  • No fees or interest charges.
  • No property lien or other collateral.

According to both Mr. Stoddard and Lee Knowles, Account Manager for EGS, the financing application process with PG&E went smoothly.  After hours and weekend installations avoided interference with scheduled school activities.  “Given our prior experience with PG&E and the OBF process, we were able to furnish the required calculations and information to ensure expedited consideration”, said Knowles. “This allowed us to better coordinate installation, which is critical when you have multiple buildings involved”, he said.

Ultimately, these lighting projects are estimated to save the District over $68,000 a year and reduce annual energy usage by almost 329,000 kWh.

“The LEDs EcoGreen installed really pop”, said Stoddard, “with greater visibility in the parking lots and a better quality of light.” “Everyone seems pleased.  You can tell how well a project works by the lack of complaints”, he added.

PG&E Account Manager Steve Spratt, now retired, first assisted AUSD with their LED projects. Then, Isaias Franco, Sr Customer Relationship Manager specializing in the Institutional Customer Sector, took over. “It is always a pleasure to work with customers like the Atascadero School District and Stu Stoddard. Stu has been very proactive in taking advantage of PG&E’s programs that benefit the district, its students, staff, and supporters,” said Franco.

As Stu Stoddard says, “unless I am helping the District take advantage of PG&E financing, and other public funding options available to lower energy usage while improving the school environment, I am not doing my job as a steward of the public trust.”

PG&E’s Energy Efficiency Financing Program is a great sales enablement tool Trade Pros can use to help customers overcome the barrier of upfront project costs that may not be in their budget.  To get more of the program highlights, visit To take a deeper dive and learn how to facilitate the process for your customers, be sure to review the Contractor Handbook (PDF, 1.1 MB) and watch the Training Video.

Photo used by permission of AUSD