In March 2009, the County of Sonoma and the Sonoma County Water Agency established a financing mechanism called Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). SCEIP helps residential and commercial building owners fund water and energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy installations.
SCEIP projects are financed by applying a permanent lien to the property, which means that the lien stays with the building rather than the owner. Legal authority for SCEIP as a financing mechanism was established in 2008 by AB 811, which encourages municipal financing of energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy retrofits.
SCEIP has already met with great success. As of January 2010, the program received nearly $40 million in applications and reinvested $19.8 million in Sonoma County’s economy through 627 projects on existing homes and buildings. Energy and water efficiency has been improved with the installation of low‐e windows, insulation retrofits, upgraded furnaces, cool roofs, and water heater replacements, among others. SCEIP has also supported the adoption of distributed renewable energy resources through funding for photovoltaic systems, solar hot water systems, and solar attic fans.
With SCEIP’s successful implementation, this financing method has received nationwide attention as a cutting-edge best practice, providing an efficient and affordable new way to dramatically reduce residential and commercial energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, while simultaneously stimulating local economies and creating green jobs.