FPA Town Meeting

March 14, 2010 Sustainability Town Hall Meeting

by Anne Greenblatt
The following presenters discussed their programs on energy efficiency and sustainability:

Cordell Stillman, Sonoma County Water Agency, discussed the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). Since the SCEIP Program was begun, there has been a 7% increase in construction jobs in Sonoma County (in contrast to Marin County, with a 2-3% drop in these kinds of jobs, and Solano County, with a 1-2% drop).

This is a voluntary assessment program which provides loans for energy efficiency projects on residences or businesses in Sonoma County. The loans are repaid with property taxes. Types of projects include water conservation measures, energy efficiency measures, solar systems, and other innovative, energy-saving and energy generation custom measures.

In order to qualify, an applicant must be a legal owner. Current on property taxes and mortgage payments, and not in bankruptcy. One can borrow up to 10% of the value of the property for improvements to the fixed property, with a $2500 minimum loan, and up to $100,000 maximum.

Property cannot be more than 10% under water. Loans are for 5, 10, or 20 years, and do not impact the credit score of the owner. Currently there is no energy audit required, but County recently received a $2.4 million grant from the state which requires an audit and 10% efficiency.
For more information, go to sonomacountyenergy.org

Sylvie Vatinelle of PG&E’s Energy Partner’s Program, discussed their free weatherization services for low-income property owners and renters. Partner’s Program, discussed their free weatherization services for low-income property owners and renters.

Examples are Energy Star refrigerators, energy efficient interior lights, exterior light, weather stripping, duct testing and other minor home repairs that will increase the efficiency of the home and reduce utility bills. This is paid for through taxes and fees on the PG&E bill. More info at chdcorp.org.

For an appointment with an Energy Specialist to determine qualification call:
Efa Fernandez 707-494-8628 (Spanish or English)
Or, for general Energy Partner information call: 707-521-4780

Jane Elias is an Energy Efficiency consultant and principal of Generational Energy, which provides whole house home and business energy audits, with detailed 30-page reports on results. Jane is a certified HERS Rater, and can also provide site analysis for solar PV and solar thermal systems.

She noted that a typical California house has the equivalent of a 3' x 3' hole leaking air, ewith 30% heating/cooling duct leakage — so heating systems need to provide over 30% of energy needed to maintain comfort.

The cost of an energy audit can be rolled into an owner’s SCEIP loan. She can be reached at 707-843-6586 or info@genergyinc.com. Website is genenergyinc.com.

Erin Matthewson of Sonoma County Conservation Action’s Know Your Neighbor program, discussed their new Conserbation at Home initiative. This facilitates the gathering of groups of neighbors to review their energy and water bills, and support each other in finding creative ways to reduce energy and water consumption.

In order to reduce greenhouse gas production in Sonoma County, we have an ambitious goal to reduce CO2 production by 25% of 1990 levels in the next 5 years. This will take all of us working together!

Ken Smith, Forestville architect and FPA Board member, provided information on getting started in sustainable gardening and food production. He referred to useful workshops at Daily Acts in Petaluma.

David Beazlie, local landscape designer, described Sonoma County’s new iGrow program, which provides resources on sustainable gardening in your backyard or community. Lots of gardening info at igrowsonoma.org.

iGROW is sponsoring a free Sustainable Food & Gardening Festival on Saturday, April 24 from noon-4:30 PM at Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa at the corner of Stony Point and West College.

Also, David encouraged all present to register their vegetable or community garden in the iGROW 350 challenge at the iGROW web site. The 350 challenge is to start at least 350 new gardens in Sonoma County by May 15. He referred to useful workshops at Daily Acts in Petaluma.

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