Amid all the vague talk and some pie-in-the-sky proposals for a "green" economy, here's something real that will move California toward that goal, more slowly perhaps, but surely.
As of last week, Placer County property owners could begin applying for loans to make their homes or businesses more energy efficient. While the focus has been on solar panels, program officials are encouraging steps such as weatherproofing windows or buying more efficient hot water heaters first, saying that it doesn't make sense to install solar panels on an otherwise energy-wasting house.
The loans are expected to average $25,000 to $30,000, with the payments added to property tax bills. Plus, much of the work will go to local contractors and companies.
While Placer is leading the way locally, others will soon be following to capitalize on Assembly Bill 811, the 2008 law allowing cities and counties to make property tax loans to help homeowners with the upfront costs of energy and water conservation improvements.
Next month, the California Energy Commission plans to award $30.5 million in federal stimulus money to support similar programs. The biggest chunk, $16.5 million, will go to Sacramento County, the lead agency for a project covering 13 counties and 12 million people. By fall, the commission says, three-fourths of state residents will live in areas with such programs.
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