Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday are set to approve the ?Energy Independence Program,? which will allow residential and commercial property owners in the unincorporated areas, as well as all nine cities, to borrow the money for improvements such as solar panels and double-paned windows.

They will have up to 20 years to pay it back, depending on the size of the loan.

?It?s going to create energy improvements, jobs and help get this economy going,? said County Controller Rod Dole, who is overseeing the program.

He said property owners should be able to apply for the loans as early as Wednesday.

Property owners will be able to borrow money to install a wide variety of improvements, including but not limited to solar and voltaic units, solar thermal devices, tankless water heaters, energy-efficient windows, attic and wall insulation.

Also eligible are water efficiency technologies that help conserve water, such as low-flush toilets.

Property owners will pay the loan back at 7 percent interest over 5 to 20 years, depending on how much they borrow.

The payments will be assessed on their property tax bills. If the property is sold, the new owner will be responsible for the payments.

The loans are for a minimum of $2,500. Both homeowners and commercial property owners throughout the county can take advantage of the program.

The county has the ability to pledge more than $100 million from funds in its treasury and from the Water Agency under a new state law that permits creation of energy programs that issue loan notes.

The money in the county treasury comes from a pool of funds normally used for investments.

The county will eventually sell bonds to institutional investors to help finance the program.

Dole said 400 property owners who were surveyed in a recent county poll showed strong interest in taking part in the program.

In the survey, more than half of homeowners found it ?motivating? to participate, along with an equal number of commercial property owners.

Contractors and property owners have also been contacting the county.

?We?ve been getting phone calls for weeks,? said Dole. ?The interest has been phenomenal.?

He said property owners will also be eligible for additional rebates, as well as state or federal tax credits once they make the improvements.

The energy-saving measures are intended to help achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and cut water consumption during the drought.

?I?m excited about this program and for the opportunity to create, or help with jobs, and to install energy efficient and water efficient projects in our community,? said Supervisor Paul Kelley.

A grand opening to launch the program is scheduled at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Water Agency?s office at 404 Aviation Blvd.

More information can be obtained at 521-6200, or online at