The New York Times reports that the Berkeley City Council late Tuesday unanimously approved a program to give city-backed loans to property owners who install rooftop solar- power systems. The loans, likely to total up to $22,000 apiece, would be paid off over 20 years as part of the owners’ property-tax bills.
At first, the city seeks to raise $1.5 million for a pilot program for about 50 homes. If it program is successful, the kitty could eventually contain tens of millions of dollars, and hundreds of property owners could be eligible to participate.
The program, said Daniel M. Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California at Berkeley and director of the school’s Institute of the Environment, is designed to entice people who might be scared away by the high initial cost of retrofitting homes to incorporate solar power or become more energy efficient.
It allows homeowners “to think about creating clean-energy homes with basically no cost” up front, he added.
Participating homeowners would pay roughly $180 more per month on their property tax bills, though much of that cost could be expected to be recouped in savings on electrical bills.