Saturday, November 24, 2007

Financing solar panels on homes

An interesting post on Berkeley's program to have the city help finance people installing solar panels on their roofs:
Berkeley's City Council has a plan for the city to finance solar panels for its residents to then have the homeowners pay for their panels through a 20-year additional assessment on their homes that is guaranteed not to exceed what their electricity would cost from the utility.

There are a number of genius elements to this path. One is that the city government will be able to achieve lower cost financing that, by definition, will lower the long-term cost of each installation. And, the City's commitment will foster educated inspectors (a real issue), a concentration of installers, knowledge in the community, etc, capacity for executing installations. The increasing number of installations (along with lower hassles for installers, like inspectors who know what they're doing) will also drive down costs as quantity of installations mount.

This does seem like a good idea: a lot of energy efficient and green technologies have high up-front costs, but more than pay for themselves over the long term. And a lot of these technologies would benefit enormously from economies of scale that aren't yet there. Maybe this program will help jump-start the business.


Anonymous Mark Hicks said...

It is certainly time for citizens to be able to afford solar panel systems for their homes. We are getting to a point where we (the citizens) need to do something. Our government is not taking the lead on renewable energy. They are in fact hindering our ability to afford solar, by trying to kill the tax credit currently in place. It simply doesnt make sense, they clearly want the oil companies to win and run us dry. So, it is good to hear someone is offering a plan that is making it affordable, or at least guaranteed to not be more than your current utility.

However, financing, that begs many questions. Do they require a credit check? How easy is it to get that system set up? Who maintains the system, and at what costs? What is the warranty? I would assume if you are financing the solar unit you are resposible for maintenance and permits only after a credit approval.

What would you consider about the ability to rent a renewable solar unit system. (Check this out at I've recently joined a grassroots movement with Citizenre ( I have begun reserving solar unit systems for homes at a rental rate not to exceed the homeowners current utility payment. Citizenre is the manufacturer, and they provide custom designed systems to accomodate the needs of that specific home. There is no purchase expense, only a security deposit, usually hovering around $500 to start. They take care of the maintenance, permits, installation, online reporting available daily, at no additional costs to the homeowner, just the rental payment.

There are two big benefits: you lock in the rate for up to 25 years. So, whatever your current rate and usage is will determine your rental payment each month. And 2nd, As a registered customer, everyone you refer to reserve this REnU solar system through Citizenre will earn you a 5% credit (value based on their rental payment) discounted from your bill. And you can get up to a 100% discount. So in effect if you are financing, you are stuck with that payment until it is paid off. But if you are renting through Citizenre, you can get that rate lock and discount for referrals and have a 100% discount for the term of the referred rental contracts! Pretty awesome, and cost effective. Even if you dont get that many referrals to discount your rental bill, your rate is locked in for the term of the contract. So while the electric utilities raise their rates, your rate will never go up for the term of the contract up to 25 years.

We all know how clean solar is. The opportunity is incredible to clean up our planet as citizens. Citizenre is making this path a reality, allowing us to do that. For more information about this solar rental program go to I feel very strong about this new concept about to hit the market. For the first time in my life I feel like I can make a difference as one individual. As a nation this will make a huge difference.

12:58 PM, November 24, 2007  

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