Archive for the ‘Green’ Category

Renewable Energy

Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Today is Earth Day, a day to reflect on our impact on the environment and propose ways to lessen that impact. The City Council of Berkeley, CA with the help of UC Berkeley has pioneered a unique way to solve the financial hurdle involved with getting homes and businesses to install solar panels on their property. They created an Energy Financing District which allows the city to finance the installation of solar panels by private property owners and businesses. The financing is repaid over a set number of years through a “special tax” or “assessment” on the property tax bill of only those property owners who choose to participate in the program. The financing is secured with a lien on the property.

There is little or no up-front cost to the property owner, and if the property is sold before the end of the repayment period, the new owner inherits both the repayment obligation and the financed improvements. Over two decades, the special assessment would be the same or less than what property owners would save on their electric bill. The property owner would remain eligible for federal and state credits for installing these green technologies.When setting up our own Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, we must be careful not to place the lien in a superior position to the mortgage on the property. The Federal Housing Finance Authority prevents us from doing so. We must also resolve the legality of the special assessment against our new constitutionally imposed property tax caps.

The program once launched is self sustaining, and no city revenue would be lost in the long run. We’d be helping out the environment as well as our pocket books!

Be sure to check out UC Berkeley’s Guide to Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Financing Districts For Local Governments.