From Jim Apperson
June 24, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California
A unique situation
Ukiah Daily Journal
Letter to the Editor
I would like to use this forum to alert the citizens of Mendocino County to a unique situation that will benefit us greatly, and have a positive impact on our children and their children.
In addition, I would like to also alert our elected officials, the Board of Supervisors, City Mayors and other county officials to this same issue and to ask for their help in securing it.
I am speaking of our current opportunity to create a county-wide Energy & Water Conservation Program. Due to a couple of pieces of recent legislation and the specific contents of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Act of 2009, our county (along with others) has been given all the puzzle pieces necessary to establish an energy efficiency program, which will lower our utility costs as well as conserve water. We can also curtail global warming and reduce our carbon output by burning less coal and fossil fuels which generate our electricity.
Our new President and his advisors have decided to stand behind the concept that it is less expensive to make our existing homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient than to explore and develop new energy sources. By using the guidelines of SB-811 and portions of the stimulus package, a loan program can be established that would allow home and business owners to have energy efficient items installed on their homes and commercial buildings.
An excellent model is the program that was started two months ago by our Sonoma County neighbors. Home and commercial building owners in Sonoma county can borrow up to 10 percent of the value of their properties to install solar panels, add insulation, install new thermal windows, convert to efficient lighting or just about any energy saving or water saving device available. The borrower has up to 20 years to pay back the money, at 7 percent interest, and is billed and paid with the property tax bill bi-annually. If the owner should sell his home, the loan stays with the property and is then assumed by the new owner. The savings in monthly utility costs should help make the bulk of these payments. And, in addition, a 30 percent tax credit is offered (to homeowners) for most items as well as rebates from PG&E and some cities. All of this combined means that up to 60 percent or more of the up front costs, depending on area and program, will be rebated back during the first year as well as the energy and water savings. And of course every month your savings mount.
This is a fantastic opportunity to really do something beneficial for ourselves and our community. The only issue is that we need the help and fast action of our County and City officials. There is a generous supply of money available to start these programs. Funding is offered for planning, hiring extra administrators and supervisory costs. But, the funding is available on a “first come, first served” basis and will go fast. It will probably be too late in 6 months.
We need our elected officials to act with haste, to apply for this funding while it is still available to our County. We have the reputation in this County of not embracing change, especially quickly. But we have a situation here that requires immediate action.
The funding is all there for the asking, but we must ask. Please contact your elected officers and let them know that you think this program is important, and that forming committees and doing studies will simply take too long. We need an energy conservation program now.
Please write or call your Supervisor and/or Mayor and voice your support.