Grant boosts 'green' plans

LA CRESCENTA — Los Angeles County supervisors Tuesday allocated $15.4 million in federal stimulus money for numerous energy-efficiency programs; among them was one that will allow property owners to tie improvement loans to the land and not their credit.

The federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program was created in 2007 but was recently funded for the first time with $3.2 billion in stimulus money to be divvied up among state and local governments.

In Los Angeles County, most of the money, about $11 million, will help build regional environmental service centers. County officials envision the centers — proposed to be housed within existing county facilities — as “one-stop shops” to learn about renewable energy, energy efficiency, recycling, waste management and other programs.

“We want to create one place where people can get information about the various environmental programs that are out there,” said Howard Choy, Energy Management Division manager for Los Angeles County Internal Services.

The second proposed program will allow residents to apply for county financing for energy-efficient retrofits and upgrades on private commercial and residential properties. The loan would be repaid through a line-item assessment on the building’s property tax bill so the loan stays with the property, Choy said.

“People don’t want to carry that debt around with them,” he said. “There is no personal debt accumulated.”

The financing program will allow cities and unincorporated areas to take part so residents across the county can benefit, Choy said.

Public outreach for the county’s recently passed green building ordinance, which established green standards for private development, and upgrades to county buildings will also be funded by the grant money.

“I really applaud the county for going after the money and getting it,” Crescenta Valley Town Council President Steve Pierce said.

Since the 1990s, the county has made $50 million in energy-efficient upgrades on facilities resulting in more than $120 million in savings and cumulative benefits, Choy said.

“They’ve long since paid for the investment,” he said.

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