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District i Update

Jack Duran
WCN column
December 2015 

Placer County’s mPOWER Program

We’re in a time of change in terms of conserving energy and water. Technology and construction techniques have effected changes and now modern buildings have energy efficiencies we’ve never seen before. If you’re in one of these new homes or commercial buildings you benefit from many technological advances with regards to energy savings. But what can you do if you live in an older house or have your business in a warehouse or other commercial building that was built decades ago?

You look to mPOWER, a program operated through the office of Jenine Windeshausen, Placer County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector.

While there are more than 1,000 property owners who have utilized this program to finance more than $34 million in qualified projects, I would like to see more people avail themselves and their properties to this truly win-win program. I’m encouraged that as we talk about it, more people are realizing that this innovative and beneficial program not only reduces energy and water use, but dramatically lowers utility bills.

Here’s how it works: Property owners apply for financing for energy and/or water efficiency upgrades for their home or business. If approved, the property owner and the county enter into a contract which provides the property owner a loan to make energy efficient improvements to their property.  After the improvements are made and verified, Placer County pays the improvement costs and places an assessment lien on the property. The assessment is amortized for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years, depending on the useful life of the upgrade. The property owner then repays the county for the improvements as an assessment on their annual property tax bill.

There are rules and conditions for qualifying and not every type of project can be financed. However, the list of improvements that fit mPOWER’s criteria is long. With a fixed, 6 percent interest rate on the financing, the costs of upgrades is typically far less than what you would pay for a conventional loan or home-equity line of credit. And if you sell the property, the assessment stays with the house. The program is available to property owners in the cities of Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville, Folsom and Lincoln and the towns of Loomis and Colfax. The program is also available in all the unincorporated areas of Placer County 

Some of the projects that can qualify for mPOWER financing include:

HVAC Upgrades: If your system is old, it’s likely inefficient. You can replace it with a smaller and more efficient unit that uses less energy. Heating and cooling typically consume half of your energy costs.

Water heating: There are many options that are far more efficient than the conventional tank heater. They include: tankless, gas condensing, high energy gas storage, heat pump, and solar water heaters.

Swimming pools: solar heaters, pool covers and variable-speed pumps can all qualify for mPOWER and reduce the energy needed to maintain your pool.

Lighting: More than a third of the electricity typically used in a commercial building goes for lighting. There are many available devices and systems that will reduce this cost.

Envelope sealing: Leaking houses are inefficient. Drafts either send cooled air outside in the summer or allow cold air inside in the winter. Weather stripping, caulking cracks, and sealing off other areas reduces wasted energy costs.

Window Replacement: Long gone are windows that allow heat or cold to either leave or enter a building. High efficiency windows reduce the energy needed to keep your house comfortable.

Insulation: This is the best defense against heat loss and heat gain and is as simple as adding insulation to walls, ceilings and floors.

For years, many property owners had to live with high energy costs because the cost of upgrading was prohibitive. Most buildings, with few exceptions, were not constructed with a high degree of energy efficiency. As a result, these buildings waste energy, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and cost property owners huge amounts of money for energy. mPOWER makes it easy and affordable to finance upgrades that will result in reduced operating costs.

To learn more about the mPOWER program, please visit its website and learn how you can afford infrastructure upgrades that will reduce your energy costs.

Energy 2001-Sierra College Solar Project

Speaking of green energy, on November 14, I had the honor of attending the opening of the Energy 2001-Sierra College Solar project located at the West Placer Waste Management Authority (WPWMA) off Athens Ln in Lincoln.  Energy 2001, which is a business that utilizes WPWMA landfill gas to create electricity, and Sierra Community College built an 11kw solar panel project on the grounds of Energy 2001.  The project, when completed will be large enough to power two (2) 2,500 square foot homes.  The project was financed by Energy 2001, with the approval of WPWMA, and implemented by Sierra Community college as part of their construction class offerings.  Sierra students designed and managed the project, installed the panels and will activate the project in early December.  The project will assist Sierra students gain important real life experience in solar design, installation and maintenance and most important the opportunity to compete for local jobs in the green energy area.  Thanks again Energy 2001 and WPWMA for stepping up to create this important educational opportunity.

Finally, as you read this update we will be quickly entering the Holiday Season and I cannot believe how quickly the year has flown by.  We have a lot of things to be thankful for, great County amenities, safe neighborhoods, excellent schools and a local economy and standard of living that is one of the largest in the state and continues to grow.  Again I am truly honored and humbled to represent so many great people and businesses in Placer County.  From my family and County Staff, to yours best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.


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