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ROHNERT PARK -- Codding Enterprises, developer of Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park, said it received county of Sonoma approval for $1.6 million in funding for a second 1-megawatt solar electric array at the development, the first project funded under a new public-private model for clean-energy enhancements to commercial properties.

The funds received from San Rafael-based Clean Fund, LLC, through the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) will help pay for the new array, allowing Sonoma Mountain Village to offset all its electric needs from on-site renewable power.

Clean Fund structured and financed the deal. It and other private firms are position themselves as third-party funders of property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing programs such as SCEIP. That allows cash-strapped local governments to tap hundreds of millions of dollars of private money to fund projects.

The SCEIP was initially set up in 2009 to provide PACE financing using the county’s treasury. On March 1 of this year, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to extend the capital resources available to SCEIP and allow private financial institutions to fund projects through the program.

Clean Fund’s financing of the Sonoma Mountain Village project makes it the first PACE project to be privately financed. PACE financing is also available to Sonoma County homeowners and business for energy efficiency and renewable power retrofits.

Sonoma County is a pioneers in the U.S. in enabling local businesses and residents to finance energy efficiency and renewable generation improvements using the PACE structure. PACE programs provide long-term financing for energy improvements through special tax assessments.

“Our Energy Independence Program is creating significant numbers of high-quality local jobs while allowing us to make environmental progress in a business friendly way,” said Efren Carrillo, chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “It’s extremely satisfying to see the strong support this program has gained from across Sonoma County’s community.”

The Sonoma business community is an enthusiastic proponent for the SCEIP, according to Brad Baker, president and CEO of Codding.

“Long term PACE financing allows us to make energy investments that support our long term business goals” Mr. Baker said. “Sonoma Mountain Village is the first One Planet Community in North America and has received LEED-ND Platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council for its project plan.”

Sonoma Mountain Village is a 200-acre mixed-use, solar-powered, zero-waste community under development. The community currently has more than 30 businesses and 800 employees in its existing commercial, office and industrial space. Plans  call for for residential options including apartments, condominiums and single family homes; and an array of hospitality, entertainment and athletic services.

In 2008, Sonoma Mountain Village was awarded California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award as a model for comprehensive land-use planning.

“Sonoma Mountain Village delivers exactly the kind of environmental, economic and community benefits the PACE financing structure of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program is designed to promote,” according to Donna Dunk, county Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector. “The complexity and large size of the Sonoma Mountain Village PACE project gave us the impetus we were looking for to bring the expertise and financing resources of private investment firms like Clean Fund into the SCEIP program.”

John Kinney, chief executive officer of Clean Fund, credited the Clinton Climate Initiative and Hannon Armstrong for leading the development of the owner-arranged PACE financing.

“It’s an honor for Clean Fund to provide the first proof of a concept designed to enable large scale private investment in improving the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings worldwide,” he said.

Owner-arranged PACE funding relies on private capital providers for project finance is the foundation of the commercial PACE programs being developed across the country. Examples of such programs are the county of Los Angeles, San Francisco and the District of Columbia.