Program Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP)
Category Financial Incentive
Implementing sector Local
Last Update
State California
Technologies Solar Water Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Solar Pool Heating
Sectors Residential

Note:  In 2010, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which has authority over mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, directed these enterprises against purchasing mortgages of homes with a PACE lien due to its senior status above a mortgage. Most residential PACE activity subsided following this directive; however, some residential PACE programs are now operating with loan loss reserve funds, appropriate disclosures, or other protections meant to address FHFA's concerns. Commercial PACE programs were not directly affected by FHFA’s actions, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not underwrite commercial mortgages. Visit PACENation for more information about PACE financing and a comprehensive list of all PACE programs across the country.

Sonoma County's Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) gives property owners the option of financing permanent energy efficiency, water conservation, renewable generation, wildfire safety, and seismic strengthening projects. PACE financing is repaid as an assessment on the property's regular tax bill.

The program is similar to others in California authorized by AB 811 of 2008, but was the first county-wide program. Eligible equipment must be permanently attached to existing buildings, new construction does not qualify. The property tax assessments are attached to the property, not the property owner. If the property is sold, the assessment stays with the property.

Financing is available for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, multifamily and certain non-profit projects.

Benefits of financing with SCEIP include:

  • Fixed interest rate of 7.49%
  • No money down
  • No income or credit quilifying
  • Minimal Fees (less than $200)
  • Consumer Protections

There over 100 pre-approved improvements eligible for SCEIP financing. All measures must meet and prove performance criteria and be permanently installed. Custom measures that are not pre-approved may be submitted for review. Search for your improvement here.

The Energy Independence Program can be combined with utility and state rebates, but financing will only be available for the post-incentive cost. Tax credits, on the other hand, will not affect the amount of financing available.
The minimum amount of financing is $2,500. The financed amount becomes an assessment attached to the property, not the owner, and is paid back through the property tax system over a term of 10 or 20 years with a 7.49% interest rate. 

A key Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) enhancement effective July 1, 2011, is the requirement of achieving 10% energy efficiency improvement on the property prior to (or along with) the financing of renewable generation upgrade projects. This approach supports SCEIP’s regional goal to “reduce and produce,” plus strengthens the market position of the SCEIP assessment portfolio.

Beginning March 1, 2011, the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program offers rebates for Energy Analyses performed by certified HERS II Raters. Submit your application, utility authorization, final invoice, rating certificate and recommendations report to SCEIP, and SCEIP will pay up to 75% of the total directly to the rater.

Commercial and industrial properties must first have Pacific Gas and Electric perform an energy audit before participating in the program. Energy audits are not required for residential participants, but they are strongly recommended. The sum of all debt associated with the property cannot exceed 100% of the value of the property. Prospective participants should fully review the program website for additional requirements and restrictions.

Beginning in 2015, Sonoma County property owners had expanded options for PACE financing options. Originally only SCEIP, the county program has partnered with CaliforniaFIRST and California HERO to make more PACE financing options available.

CaliforniaFIRST operates under the auspices of the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA), the CaliforniaFIRST residential PACE program launched in the summer of 2014 in 17 California counties and 167 cities.

The HERO program was started up in December 2011 with a partnership between the Western Riverside Council of Governments and Renovate America, Inc. As of 2014, the program has been extended to 202 communities in California, helping to fund more than 18,836 residential projects totaling more than $344 million in financing.

As of January 2016, this program has funded more than $73 million in projects. 

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