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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county
Santa Cruz County and City adopt new programs to encourage energy independence
June 2009

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council have each adopted Energy Independence and Economic Stimulus Initiative programs to provide homeowners financing options to install energy generation improvements.

The programs consist of two phases. Phase 1 (available immediately) is a loan program for solar panel installation and other energy efficiency improvements such as solar hot water or rain water catchment systems. Phase 2 consists of investigation of special finance districts for solar installations.

Both phases require zero local tax dollars to finance. Low interest loans for Phase 1 will be at the fixed rate of 9.0% for up to 15 years. The solar finance districts being investigated for Phase 2 would allow property owners in such districts to pay for solar projects through a 20-year special tax assessment on their property tax bill with little upfront costs. Similar projects have been established in Berkeley and Boulder, Colorado.

“This is a win-win for our county because it would infuse millions of dollars in our local economy while also making good progress toward climate change goals,” said Neal Coonerty, chair of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.

The programs will help the City and County of Santa Cruz to make significant progress toward needed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while providing investment in the local economy, two goals that are consistent with the Climate Action Compact of 2007 between the City and County and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Other participants in this community partnership include the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, local solar companies, and Ecology Action.

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