Oakland is the next city in line to adopt Berkeley’s landmark solar lending program. Berkeley developed the Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology (FIRST) in 2007. Since then, it has expanded to become California FIRST, and like a domino effect, other cities are lining up to adopt the program, which allows homeowners to pay for home solar power systems through an assessment on their property tax bill.
Homeowners pay a voluntary increase on property taxes, typically less than $200 per month, and the city finances their solar electric system. Payback of the loan ranges from 20-30 years and stays with the property even if it is sold. While the Berkeley program focuses specifically on solar power, Oakland’s version expands on that template to include other steps, like home energy efficiency upgrades and new appliances.
The idea is catching on fast. Other cities in California are going the way of Berkeley, including Oakland and San Diego, as well as cities across the country. Even in Texas, where solar incentives took a huge hit during the most recent state legislative session, a local option passed that allows Texas cities to adopt Berkeley-like solar financing programs.
Quite often, homeowners start saving on energy bills from day one, which helps them pay back the tax-integrated loans and adds to the city’s renewable energy mix. The Berkeley program has been wildly popular. Its first allotment of applications “sold out” faster than a Pearl Jam concert and evidence of its effectiveness dots Berkeley roofs today. Oakland’s version of the California FIRST initiative is set to begin in June 2010.
Via Cooler Planet