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Placer’s mPower green-loan program switches on non-residential focus

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s mPower green-loan program is officially on hold for homeowners but being kept afloat for non-residential customers. A cost-wary Board of Supervisors approved a resolution suspending mPower’s residential loan component but also signaled to county Treasurer Jenine Windeshausen – who is overseeing the project – to keep a tight rein on spending. Because of federal objections that have taken the momentum out of similar Property Assessed Clean Energy loan programs around the nation, Placer suspended accepting and processing applications July 6. Plans are to make $33 million in loans. Expressing hope that governments will be able to overcome Federal Housing Finance Agency objections and retain green-loan programs, supervisors formally adopted a resolution suspending the local effort’s residential component. Windeshausen said that work is taking place on three fronts – legal, legislative and with the Obama administration – to find a way to restart the residential loan program. In the meantime, it’s important to pursue non-residential green-loan business because of the need to recover startup costs, Windeshausen said. The prospects of OK’ing a $112,000 contract for public relations and marketing services with Sacramento’s Randle Communications proved too rich for CEO Tom Miller and the board, however. Windeshausen said Randle would be a key in ramping up the non-residential marketing campaign while also assisting with lobbying. Miller suggested that with $500,000 in start-up costs that may not be recovered, the Randle contract had already been overextended by $42,000. He suggested that the Randle contract be paid month to month while uncertainty over the status of the program remained. Supervisor Jim Holmes’ motion to approve a contract not to exceed $60,000 was approved 4-1, with Kirk Uhler casting the lone dissenting vote. Chairman Kirk Uhler said that mPower could work on publicity with private businesses that will profit from contracting work related to the green-loan program. “My concern is we need to be in cost-recovery mode rather than additional spending mode,” Uhler said. In other board business: - Supervisors appointed new members Otis Wollan and Nancy Hagman to the Colfax Public Cemetery District board and reappointed John Dugan. Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said the three emerged from a strong field of 10 candidates for the board. - The board adopted a resolution posthumously commending Dr. Gordon Seck for 30 years of service to Placer County and 50 years of dedication to his patients and the practice of medicine. - New Placer County Youth Commission appointees were named. They are Britney Carino, Josephine Kao, Alex Kludjian, Kent Makishima, Noor Bhangu, Janeth Diaz, Nicole Hutak, Brandon Barry, Connor Puhala, Courtney Shalvis, Jacklyn Trentman, Ashley Hemming, Andrew Burrows, Daniel Graupensperger and Derek Ikeda.