The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program provides financing for permanent energy efficiency upgrades to a property through a voluntary assessment on the property itself. A number of significant projects have found financing through the program, including a $1.6 million solar array at Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park.  The program is the subject of a continuing lawsuit between California and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, centered around the contention that the related property liens and tax assessments create an undue risk for mortgage lenders.  Diane Lesko is the assistant program manager for the program.

Q: How has the Sonoma County Energy Independence program evolved since it's inception, and what are the current strategies being employed to accomplish the program's goals?

A: The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) launched in March of 2009 as a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The program allows property owners in Sonoma County to finance water efficiency, energy efficiency and renewable generation projects. Since then, SCEIP has grown to become the “one-stop-shop” for information on rebate and incentive programs, financing options, connections to contractors and certified energy analysis professionals as well as green job training schedules and other events. In the past few months, we have also begun shared services with the City of Healdsburg Electric Utility and the Town of Windsor’s Efficiency PAYS Program. SCEIP continues to be a nationwide leader in PACE as well as the go-to agency in the county for information and collaboration on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies. The County of Sonoma has a goal of reducing GHG emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2015 and SCEIP is one of the exciting tools that will help us reach that goal.