Kern County

The Sun Shines on California's Grape Industry

Kern County is one of California's primary oil centers, but the sun-kissed region in the San Joaquin Valley is rapidly gaining cred for solar power as well. The latest example: this 516-kilowatt system at Giumarra Vineyard, a major player in the county's $4.7 billion farming industry. (See ag report here.)

Almost 2,300 solar panels will help power the main production and cold storage plant. Giumarra is the latest in a long string of farming enterprises in the Valley to discover the power of the sun, and is the latest solar project in a region of proposed solar projects.

Many farmers are embracing solar and renewable energy in the Valley even as some agriculture groups and local governments are drafting new land-use policies to avoid conflicts with solar and prime farmland.

But solar makes sense down on the farm. Growers have ample land, use large amounts of power and can save money - and possibly create another cash crop - by using solar and other sources of clean energy. Some creative measures, such as mixing "solar trees" with real trees, are being proposed to ease potential land conflicts.

Increasingly, farmers are harvesting clean energy in Solar Valley.

Housing Administrator Puts Foot Down Re: PACE

The New York Times is reporting that homeowners who financed energy-efficiency upgrades through PACE-type programs will have to repay the "loans" before they can refinance their properties.
Property Assessed Clean Energy programs allow homeowners to finance improvements through a line item on their property tax. A lien is placed against the property, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said today that borrowers with equity have to pay them off before they can refinance loans. Those without equity can refinance with the lien in place.

PACE proponents contend the assessments are not loans, and shouldn't be subject to those rules.

t's obvious that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie and Fannie, isn't interested in resolving the dispute over PACE. It's important because Fresno and Kern counties were to participate in a pilot program that would have allowed homeowners to finance improvements.
Here's more from the Times' blog.