Green Jobs Created Through $100 Million Sonoma County Energy Independence Program
CONTACT: Brad Sherwood 707.547.1927
Santa Rosa, CA – Despite rising unemployment in California and nationwide, construction-related jobs in Sonoma County increased 8.4 percent between January, 2009 and September, 2009 after the implementation of the $100 million Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). Data from SCEIP, the Construction Industry Research Board and California Employment Development Department shows that construction-related jobs increased at the same time more than $14 million was contracted with homeowners and businesses participating in SCEIP. California's unemployment continued its increase to a high of 12.5 percent and nationwide 9.5 percent in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sonoma County unemployment hit 10.1 percent.
An example of a local Sonoma County business that has increased construction-related jobs due to SCEIP funding is The Sun Connection.
“Since SCEIP began, we have hired 9 new employees to meet the demand, and look forward to continued growth in the spring,” said Alicia Collins, owner of The Sun Connection, a family owned company in Santa Rosa, CA that specializes in whole house energy saving solutions. “After 16 years of doing business in Sonoma County, 2007 and 2008 were our slowest years. SCEIP has parted the clouds of the recession, shinning the light on solar. The future looks bright at The Sun Connection.”
The Sonoma County Water Agency and County of Sonoma jointly pledged up to $100 million to fund energy efficiency and water conservation improvements for residential and commercial property owners. SCEIP allows property owners to finance energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy improvements through a voluntary assessment attached to the property, paid back through the property tax system over time.
“It was our goal to develop a program that would benefit the environment and economy,” said SCWA Chairman and County Supervisor Paul Kelley. “SCEIP is a model for the nation on how to build green jobs, reduce greenhouse gases and conserve our energy and water resources.”
In particular, more than $5.6 million in SCEIP projects were contracted in July and August 2009 at the same time a spike of 500 new construction jobs were reported by the California Employment Development Department.
"We are excited by the twofold benefits: lower utility bills and new green construction jobs, of the County's new Energy Independence Program,” said Rod Dole, Sonoma County’s Auditor/Controller, who administers the program. “We believe the $37 million participation by Sonoma County property owners made these community benefits possible."
While Sonoma County’s construction-related jobs increased, neighboring counties either saw a drop or slight increase - Napa County jobs declined by -3% and in Solano County jobs increased by only 1.3%. Neither county implements a SCEIP program. SCWA and Sonoma County will continue to monitor and evaluate the positive economic impact SCEIP is having on its local economy.
Local economists agree that SCEIP has helped increase green jobs in Sonoma County.
“Energy Independence is our future. Programs like this one seize this opportunity to not only drive our economy toward a future of using fewer natural resources but also employing other resources, such as workers in construction industries and other trades, to implement this program in homes and businesses,” said Dr. Robert Eyler, director, Center of Regional Economic Analysis, Sonoma State University. “This program is exactly what we need to see in a sustained recovery.”
Property owners who want to use SCEIP funding must agree to repay the program through an assessment on their property taxes over a term of 5, 10, or 20 years. The tax assessments are tied to the properties, and may, therefore, be passed from one owner to the next. Details of the program, including application procedures, a list of approved projects, and frequently asked questions, may be obtained on the program's Web site www.sonomacountyenergy.org.
The data suggests large gains in construction job growth are closely correlated with the increase in SCEIP funded projects.
Click here to view the report: "Growth in Construction Economic Activity in Sonoma County and the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program"
Sonoma County Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at www.sonomacountywater.org.