Home arrow News arrow Energy News arrow Vice President, Joe Biden, to model solar finance plan on Berkeley's
free classifieds cars
Vice President, Joe Biden, to model solar finance plan on Berkeley's PDF Print E-mail

Vice President, Joe Biden, to model solar finance plan on Berkeley's

Source: Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle

The solar financing plan that originated in Berkeley in 2007 will become a national model, Vice President Joe Biden said Monday.

Biden's program, known as Recovery Through Retrofit, creates a framework for cities, counties and states to set up tax districts that allow residential and business property owners to install solar panels and make other energy improvements, repaying the investment over a 20-year property tax assessment.

"This is a remarkable validation of what Berkeley did," said Cisco DeVries, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates' former chief of staff who drafted Berkeley's financing plan and now works at an Oakland firm that helps municipalities create similar plans. "For an idea that started in Berkeley, it's proven to be very non-ideological."

Since Berkeley adopted its financing plan, cities across the nation have adopted similar models, and California, New York, Texas and 11 other states have passed legislation making it easier for municipalities to create their own financing plans.

Berkeley's plan intends to eliminate the up-front cost of solar installation, which could total about $20,000 for an average bungalow, and the financial commitment that could follow property owners after they move from the home.

Under the plan, the assessment stays with the property, not the person. Property owners pay no money up front but pay about $180 a month on their property tax bill, an amount that is offset by the energy saved from generating solar power.

The plan, combined with federal, state and utility rebates, allows property owners to nearly break even on their investment.

Berkeley launched its plan last year with 40 homeowners. Of those, two dropped out and 38 have completed or nearly completed solar panel installation, according to the city's energy department.

The federal plan and those adopted in most other cities allow property owners to make other energy-efficiency upgrades, too, such as installing new windows, insulation and weather stripping.

Solar financing plans have been a boon for installers. A Berkeley firm, Sungevity, has expanded its staff to 35 and seen its business increase dramatically in California, including in Sonoma County and Palm Desert, which have adopted versions of the financing plan.

"Where it's available, it's a clear market driver," said Danny Kennedy, Sungevity president. "There's no question there's a demand out there, and this goes a long way to removing the barriers."

< Prev   Next >