Contractor Newsletter - April 2020

A note from the Energy and Sustainability Division Manager, Jane Elias

I am well aware of the contractor industry challenges at this time of COVID-19. As you have experienced other challenges over these last four years through fires, floods, and power shut-offs, I am grateful you persevere. One thing I learned working with several of you directly in the field and through the services we offer through the Energy and Sustainability Division is that you are resourceful, hardworking, and committed to the community in which you live and work. The Division and Energy Independence Program staff remain steadfast in working with you. Below are several ways in which we are getting you services and providing some relief in getting improvements completed during this time. We have been here before, finding ways to keep our local economy growing and thriving. I look forward to working with you during this time.

To the Sonoma County Contractor Community

We have all been through rough waters and economic turmoil….and we’ve learned from it. During the last recession we learned that a simple interest, equity-based alternative financing option, helped the construction industry here in Sonoma County. “The relative strength of the Sonoma County construction sector as compared to neighboring counties in the last recession was a result of SCEIP activity”, as stated in an article in the Local Government Partnership newsletter, Spring 2013. For many of our participating contractors, the number of construction projects increased, the unemployment numbers decreased and our property improvement financing program provided 23.8 million dollars to fund over 770 construction projects during a time when many businesses were shuttering their doors. We also learned that when property owner’s funds were stretched to meet the needs of their families, they were grateful for the opportunity to participate in our program. Funding that wasn’t based on their income or debt and was repaid as an assessment on their annual property tax bills provided them the ability to make improvements that increased the energy efficiency, safety and the value of their greatest investment. Now is the time to remind our community that we are still here for them. We’re here for our participating Contractors – we’re creating marketing materials for your use, and we’re asking you to reach out to us and let us know how we can help you increase awareness of your commitment to the County of Sonoma. We’re here for our residents - to help them with a solution to finance their energy and water, wildfire safety, and seismic strengthening projects. Let’s work together to keep Sonoma County Strong.

Online Contractor Forum Wednesday, April 22nd at 11am

Join the Energy and Sustainability staff for an online open forum this Wednesday from 11 – 12. We’ll be discussing how the office is fully functioning while adhering to the shelter-in-place order, current marketing efforts and an open discussion on how we can help the contractor community be ready to start jobs when it is safe to do so. We plan to continue these forums weekly as a drop-in space to not only provide support and information about financing but as a networking opportunity for the contractor community. Some of our long-standing participating contractors are great resources on how they thrived during the last economic downturn.

Financing Program Updates

On Wednesday, April 8, the SCEIP Steering Committee met virtually to discuss impacts to the program given the current COVID-19 shelter-in-place order. Specifically, the Steering Committee was looking for any actions that that could take to ease the pain being felt by local contractors. Two decisions were made at the meeting:

  • Extension of Automated Valuation Model (AVM) Reports: Any AVM report generated between March 18 and June 30, 2020, will be valid for 120 days (up from 90 days) for the purposes of meeting SCEIP application requirements. At this time, the extension does not apply to appraisals or any other documentation requirements associated with the application.
  • Addition of Extra Extension Period for Completion of Current Projects: SCEIP contracts that do not involve multiple disbursements allow for 90 days to complete the improvements with the provision to allow up to 3 - thirty day extensions (180) days total. In recognition of construction work delays due to COVID-19 and the Public Health Orders in place, we are adding two additional thirty (30) day extensions for improvement completion (240) days. Staff will continue to follow up with contractors and/ or property owners with each of the thirty days extension periods. This change is effective for any contracts signed between March 18 and June 30, as it will take time for contractors to restart work following the shelter-in-place order.

The SCEIP Steering Committee will be meeting again in three weeks to evaluate the impacts that these decisions have on our current project pipeline and to consider additional program changes that benefit customers, contractors, and the greater community.

Resources for Contractors: Online Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Training Available on Demand

California Energy Registry (Cal Energy formerly CHEERS) one of the two approved Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Providers in California offers no cost access to their California HERS Rater training videos on the Cal Energy YouTube channel: https://goo.gl/AikzRY

Subjects in this course include:

  • Legal Aspects of the HERS Profession
  • Rater & Job Safety
  • Title 24 Overview
  • Basics of Building Science
  • HERS Diagnostic Inspections
  • CHEERS Registry Training

These training videos provide insight into and an understanding of the HERS Field Verification and Diagnostic Testing (FVTD) requirements and procedures for projects to meet the Title 24 CA Energy Code HERS requirements.

Resources for Contractors: Free Tool Lending Library

The County of Sonoma Energy and Sustainability Division’s Tool Lending Library program HERS Diagnostic Testing equipment at no cost to qualified Contractors, HERS Raters and Energy Professionals in Sonoma County. These free resources allow contractors the opportunity to understand how to test their own systems to optimize installation quality and system performance and to set their projects up for success.

For more information about the County of Sonoma Energy and Sustainability Division Tool Lending Library program visit: http://WWW.SONOMACOUNTYENERGY.ORG/TLL

COVID-19 Update: For the health and safety of our staff and our borrowers, we are not accepting tool reservations at this time.

Resources for Contractors: Sonoma Clean Power Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) Assistance Program for Large Scale Residential Storage Projects

On April 7, 2020 Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) launched the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) Assistance Program. Through the program the customer and contractor will receive the SGIP incentive up front rather than waiting for the project to be completed to receive the incentive. SCP will be providing the projected SGIP incentive in anticipation of the successful SGIP application for the project. The Customer will sign the SGIP incentive over to SCP. SCP will receive the incentive once the project is completed. These funds will then be returned to the SGIP Assistance Program fund to allow additional incentives to be fronted.

SCP is accepting applications for Residential Large Scale Storage > 10 kW < 30 kW projects only at this time. (sizing is based on Real Power, max continuous (kW)).

  • The Residential Equity/Resiliency Program has been postponed: CPUC Energy Division has requested an extension of time to open SGIP Residential Equity/Resiliency Budget postponed until May 2020

  • Small Residential Storage application processing is on hold pending resolution of step 5 waitlist status, this issue is estimated to be resolved in May or June, 2020.

Through this program SCP hopes to enable more participation in the statewide Self-Generation Incentive program (SGIP) (administered locally by PG&E) by offering financial assistance to move installation barriers and increase the number of battery installations in the area. The SCP Board of Directors has approved $650,000 to start the program.

For more information and questions about the SGIP Assistance Program please contact: Sonoma Clean Power Programs Team at programs@sonomacleanpower.org.

Not a Participating Contractor…

In addition to great content, participating contractors have access to training, marketing materials and website listing at no-cost. To learn how you can take advantage of these benefits contact our office at (707) 565-6470 or download the Contractor Standards and Guidelines.

Contact Information

Jane Elias

Division Manager

Energy and Sustainability Division

General Services Department

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address
La Plaza A
2300 County Center Drive
Suite A105
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.46242, -122.725426