Financing solar panels on homes
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.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.
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.