Would set up financing for energy improvements similar to Sonoma CountyMarin County residential and commercial property owners may soon get access to long-term financing for energy- and water-efficiency upgrades, similar to what has been available since this spring through the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program.
The Marin Energy Authority was started by local governments in 2004 to promote what they proposed as "greener" electricity through a community choice aggregation program called Marin Clean Energy.
That goal is still developing, but a new goal is to potentially allow property owners to finance their own power systems via an Assembly Bill 811 voluntary assessment district, according to interim director Dawn Weisz.
[caption id="attachment_15596" align="alignleft" width="288" caption="Marin Energy Authority Interim Director Dawn Weisz at a windmill farm in Solano County that would be part of the Marin Clean Energy program"][/caption]
"No target date has been set," she said. "If we get funding, then we may be able to launch in three to five months."
The energy authority has been talking with officials involved in AB 811 districts in Sonoma County and Palm Desert, the two locales first to take advantage of the legislative authority granted last year.
However, the Association of Bay Area Governments earlier this year floated the possibility of a nine-county AB 811-type district.
The Marin effort, called the Solar and Energy Efficiency District, or SEED, would take about $500,000 to launch and promote, according to Ms. Weisz. Marin Energy Authority has all local governments as members except Novato, Corte Madera and Larkspur, but a separate agreement would allow them to participate in the SEED, she said.
North Bay governments are under a Jan. 1 deadline to adopt their versions of the state Department of Water Resources' Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, which was promulgated in February. There was initial indication the implementation would be delayed until 2011, but the original start date is locked in, according to Daniel Muelrath, Santa Rosa water conservation program coordinator.
After six months of work on crafting the state ordinance to local conditions, a committee of conservation agency staff members, local government planners, landscape contractors and architects, and environmental-protection advocates from Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino and Napa counties this summer developed a model ordinance they hope will be adopted by governments in those counties.
The Santa Rosa City Council is set to consider the ordinance in November in time to be adopted by year-end, according to Mr. Muelrath. One difference from the state version in Santa Rosa's is the absence of the requirement that users who exceed their budgeted irrigation use by 20 percent would have to make changes to comply. Santa Rosa already requires water budgets and monitors them monthly to work with customers before water use exceeds budgets by that much, he said.
Napa Valley government attorneys are reviewing their versions of the ordinance, and the county of Sonoma is doing likewise.
Carolyn Wasem, whose family is an owner of the Airport Business Center commercial real estate park north of Santa Rosa, said the new ordinance falls short because it deals only with new and significantly reworked landscaping, which won't address the millions of square feet of turf already installed.