NewEnergyNews: BERKELEY BREAKTHROUGH SOLAR FINANCE PLAN PASSES

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    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    BERKELEY BREAKTHROUGH SOLAR FINANCE PLAN PASSES

    In reporting on this story last month (BERZERKELEY TO FNANCE SOLAR) NewEnergyNews called it “the breakthrough” for solar cost obstacles. Apparently others thought so too.
    Said concept originator DeVries: "(The solar plan) provides the financing tools to help people meet their obligations. Everyone is looking for new ways to get property owners to get to work on reducing their emissions and this provides an incentive…This proposal has generated more interest from around the country and world than any other policy that the city has worked on since I've been here (in five years)…I am no longer able to respond to the e-mails and calls I am receiving and I feel bad about that…Our energy program officer came to me saying he has dozens of e-mails and phone calls he can't respond to either. There is a lot of interest."


    Solar energy financing gets Berkeley City Council approval; Council approves program to help property owners install energy systems, allowing repayment over 20 years
    Kristin Bender (w/Doug Oakley), November 8, 2007 (Contra Costa Times)

    WHO
    Berkeley City Council, Mayor Tom Bates, Chief of Staff Cisco DeVries, Stephen Compagni Portis & Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate nergy lab

    Solar panels will soon be seen all across the Berkeley Hills.

    WHAT
    The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved the DeVries-developed Solar Financing Initiative by which the city will finance residents’ home solar installations and they can pay for them via property tax increases equal to the savings they will get from their utility bills.

    WHEN
    - Details are expected to be settled by Summer 2008.
    - The finance plan allows residents to pay off the solar installations with supplementary charges on their property taxes over a 20-year period.
    - Berkeley’s goal is to cut city greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
    - The city passed Measure G in November of 2006, calling for all residents to cut their carbon footprints.

    WHERE
    The plan applies to Berkeley residents but is already being recognized nationally and internationally.

    WHY
    - The city will get the money to finance the programs from bulk bank loans at better interest rates than individuals can get. The city also has a bureaucracy in place to manage such large scale financing operations. And it can coordinate permitting with finance and installation.
    - The city is currently studying 5 financing plans.
    - The key is a repayment add-on to the property tax assessment equal to the normal cost of electricity.
    - Ownership of the system goes to the owner of the house or building. If the house or building is sold, the ownership and property tax assessment passes to the new owner.

    And in the flats.

    QUOTES
    - Compagni Portis, UC Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory: "This program has the potential to once again be a leader in the nation…It's a model that is simple and yet really powerful in terms of allowing cities across the country to build a base of solar power."
    - Ron Kenedi, vice president, Sharp Solar: "With the enactment of this initiative, Berkeley is not only providing residents and businesses with greater access to clean, emissions-free solar power, they are also providing a tremendous boon to local and regional solar installers and contractors, helping grow the local economy and tax base…"
    - Dan Kammen, director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab: "This is a loan that is much more accessible…I think the mayor's assessment is right, that if the up-front cost goes away, we're going to see a huge wave of solar energy and efficiency projects."

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