The Low Down On Green Living
April 22nd, 2009
Despite advances in technology, falling prices for raw materials and an ever-growing number of installations, solar PV panels are still not affordable for most families. Typical setups for even mid-sized homes can come in at well over $20,000 before rebates and incentives.
Fortunately, local, state and federal government agencies are continually adding programs that bring solar PV panels ever closer to affordability. Net metering programs allow you to sell excess electricty back to your utility. Many agencies offer rebates that cut from 30-50% off of the total cost of a system. The Obama Administration recently announced changes to the federal tax code that remove a cap on renewable energy tax credits. And, private companies have stepped into the fray offering a variety of innovative financing and group purchasing programs.
What’s next? Well, CleanTechnica recently published a piece on new loan programs that are springing up (now in California, and hopefully elsewhere soon) that allow you to finance the full price of your solar installation and then pay it back (with interest) via your annual property tax payments.
Several cities are already out of the gate and running:
- Berkeley launched a pilot program in November with funding of $1.5M. The program sold out in NINE minutes, and 39 homeowners signed up. A bit of pent-up demand, perhaps?
- Palm Desert launched its program in August 2008 and has already funded over $7.5M in projects. The Palm Desert program is also open to energy efficiency projects and upgrades.
- San Diego, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Sonoma County, Santa Cruz and many more cities and counties are in the planning phases.
How expensive are these loan programs? Interest rates for the programs launched so far are in the 7% range, which compares favorably with current home equity loan rates (if you can even get one).
The crazy oversubscription rates demonstrated by the Berkeley and Palm Desert programs clearly show that there’s huge demand out there, so we hope that more governments and companies step in to fill this need!
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