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VIA hosts green panel

Local companies share insights on rebates, credits and future

Posted: October 20, 2010 9:13 p.m.
Updated: October 21, 2010 4:30 a.m.

VIA’s green energy, technology and new codes panel presentation featured, from left to right, Ken Raleigh of Helman Partners, D.J. Schramm of Green Convergence, David Peterson of the city of Santa Clarita and Greg Powell of EnerLon. Not pictured: Chris Coronel, Anna Sanchez and Gil Delgado of Southern California Edison.

The Valley Industry Association hosted a green-technology panel presentation and discussion Tuesday, addressing the many ways businesses can receive rebates, tax credits and reduce operating costs. 

The panel featured Greg Powell of EnerLon, David Peterson from the city of Santa Clarita, D.J. Schramm of Green Convergence, Ken Raleigh of Helman Partners and Anna Sanchez and Gil Delgado from Southern California Edison.

EnerLon helps companies monitor and manage energy use electronically. Powell said 40 percent of a building’s operating expenses goes into keeping the building comfortable through its HVAC systems, 40 percent goes into lighting costs and 20 percent accounts for the energy used to keep the office equipment and computers operating.

“We waste half of the energy we use,” Powell said.

Powell referred to buildings that electronically monitor and manage their energy consumption as “connected buildings.” He said connected buildings typically use 30-percent less energy than a nonconnected building. In an audio-visual presentation Powell showed, one customer’s monthly energy bill went from $16,000 per month to $13,000 per month — an estimated annual savings of $36,000.

As of Jan. 1, any commercial building over 50,000 square feet must be energy benchmarked before being sold or leased, according to AB 1103. Using the Energy Star as a basis for measurement, building owners must show their energy-efficiency rating (on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the most energy efficient), along with the energy consumption history for utilities consumption for the past 12 months prior to any lease or sale transaction.

City of Santa Clarita
David Peterson, assistant planner with the city’s Planning Department, explained the goal of AB 32 is to achieve greenhouse-gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2020.

Peterson also noted that ambitious goals such as AB 32 have an impact on the economy.

“Venture capitalists invested $2.2 million in California energy companies and ventures,” he said. “And depending on the report you read, between 120,000 to 180,000 new jobs could be created.”

Peterson said it is anticipated that changes in the law will result in some increased costs to businesses, but that the city of Santa Clarita will be working with the business community. He also referred businesses to the city’s Green Santa Clarita at

Green convergence
Schramm, president of Green Convergence, briefly reviewed the use of solar panels in coordinating energy use by wiring a building for solar power. The company is a SunPower dealer, installing solar panels that are said to be the most efficient on the market today.

“Up to 75 percent of the solar and energy-efficiency installation costs can be paid for with rebates and credits,” Schramm said.

Helman Partners
Raleigh, tax director of Helman Partners, said his company can help structure solar-panel costs for tax benefits. His company works directly with Green Convergence. Raleigh said that businesses can take a 30-percent tax credit, or cash grant, offsetting the costs of solar panels. Some credits extend through the year 2016, while others are slated to expire at the end of this year.

Raleigh also covered other tax opportunities, including allowable methods of depreciation on the cost of installing solar panels.

Southern California Edison
Sanchez and Delgado of Southern California Edison said the utility company offers a free energy-audit survey for businesses. Edison is also slated to install smart meters in Valencia next year. 

While existing electric meters measure usage, the smart meters help customers make informed decisions with regards to energy use by providing them with new online management tools.  The utility company is also holding a free workshop Nov. 5 at College of the Canyons on how to make a business more energy efficient.


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