At the April 27th meeting of the Windsor/North County Democratic Club, Sonoma County program specialist Lauren Lum described opportunities offered by the county to support energy efficiency upgrades to both residential and commercial properties. The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program offers a variety of options to save energy, lower utility bills, and to make a structure more comfortable.
County property owners can begin with an energy assessment done using strict diagnostic testing performed by a participating contractor who can be chosen from a list on the Energy Independence Office’s website, www.sonomacountyenergy.org. Ms. Lum suggested that efficiency upgrades can range from do-it-yourself installation of low flow showerheads to energy efficient replacement windows and furnaces, as well as rooftop solar panels. Improvements costing more than $2,500 may be eligible for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing through the county’s Energy Independence Program. Sonoma County will fund the upgrades for a loan term of 10 or 20 years at an interest rate of 7 per cent. Loan payments are included as part of the property tax assessment.
Ms. Lum came to Sonoma County as an Americorps CivicSpark fellow after her graduation from Regis University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Peace and Justice Studies. As a CivicSpark fellow she worked in the Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Division. At the end of her fellowship, she was hired as a fulltime program specialist in that division. In addition to this work she is very engaged as a volunteer with Daily Acts, a Sonoma County non-profit organization.
The mission of Daily Acts is to create more self-reliant communities by transforming homes and landscapes into sustainable and resilient ecosystems. The organization provides the skills and resources to support people to plant a garden, harvest rainwater, install a greywater system, convert a lawn, and/or start a compost bin, as well as many other projects that help to make our community more environmentally friendly. The organization, headquartered in Petaluma, was founded in 2002 by Trathen Heckman, a former professional snowboarder. More information on Daily Acts and the annual Community Resilience Challenge can be found at www.dailyacts.org.
In addition to Lauren Lum, Windsor Town Councilman Sam Salmon was on hand to share updates on several Windsor issues. He addressed ongoing negotiations concerning a new contract for garbage collection services in Windsor. The awarding of a contract to current bidders has become complicated by the threat of CEQA-related litigation by one of the bidders. Mr. Salmon is hopeful that the services can be awarded to a company that can process the waste locally, reversing the environmental costs of shipping waste to locations outside the county. He also shared the progress on the ongoing project to improve infrastructure to better connect central Windsor on each side of US 101.
Alos, Val Campbell updated the group on the next planned meeting of the group Indivisible Windsor, and Betsy Mallace reported on a bill recently introduced in Congress by Representative Jeff Denham to require the U.S. government to take land west of Windsor into trust for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians. The bill is not supported by our local Congressman, Jared Huffman.
— Barry Hirsch