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PACE in CA: Sonoma County turns to private partnership to fund green energy home improvements

Sonoma County is redoubling its effort to offer financing to property owners who want to upgrade their homes and businesses with energy- and water-saving retrofits. The county and the city of Sebastopol have signed off on a new plan allowing private companies to join the local market for the first time.

Sonoma County created the nation’s first countywide initiative, known as the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, in 2009. It allows property owners to borrow money based on the assessed value of their property, and repay it over time on their property tax bills.

Now, two new companies will join the county in offering financing to pay for home and business retrofits, such as installation of solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and gray water systems. To date, the county has loaned more than $45 million to property owners for nearly 4,000 upgrades — a sliver of what Sonoma County officials say is needed to fund ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. Read more.