SCEIP still going strong, celebrates 5th anniversary
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The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) is celebrating its fifth anniversary, riding the wave of a nationwide resurgence in support for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

SCEIP has funded more than 2,040 projects to date, totaling upwards of $66 million in retrofits to Sonoma County homes and businesses with items such as energy-efficient windows, heating and cooling equipment, insulation and solar panels leading the list of over 90 pre-approved eligible improvements. These projects have prevented the emission of more than 8,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, according to SCEIP.

PACE financing allows property owners to take advantage of energy and water saving upgrades to their homes or businesses and pay off the investment over time through their property tax bills. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors authorized the creation of SCEIP to offer PACE in Sonoma County, and SCEIP opened its doors on March 25, 2009 as the first multi-jurisdictional municipal PACE program to provide residential and non-residential financing in the United States.

PACE programs have proliferated across the country and more than 31 states have passed PACE- enabling legislation, despite significant challenges from the Federal Housing Finance Agency based on concerns about the senior priority of PACE obligations. To address these challenges in California, Governor Brown and State Treasurer Lockyer have led the creation of a Statewide PACE mortgage loss reserve program. Administered by the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, the program will protect mortgage holders from losses associated with any defaults from properties that have PACE liens.

In addition, Congressman Mike Thompson introduced new PACE legislation with bipartisan support on March 24, 2014. The PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Assessment Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 4285) is designed to prevent greater regulatory restrictions that have tempered greater participation in PACE programs.

Program Administrator and County Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector, David Sundstrom said, “I am grateful for the actions taken by the governor, the treasurer and the legislature to promote SCEIP, and the unwavering support of our Board of Supervisors. Those actions in combination with the Assessment Protection Act will go a long way to help grow the program and thereby assist the County in meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

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