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Consumer Technology joe_biden_recovery_through_retrofit

Published on October 21st, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

71

Joe Biden to Solar Power USA With P.A.C.E. ‘Recovery through Retrofit’ Berkeley First Municipal Financing



Vice President Joe Biden just revealed a plan to make Berkeley First available nationwide. Yesterday at his Middle Class Task Force meeting Biden proposed the way to make solar roofs easy for everyone to afford with virtually free solar panels. If you now pay your current electricity bill and own a home, that’s literally all it takes to go solar under municipal tax assessment financing.

That’s because his plan; detailed in Recovery Through Retrofit simply makes the very successful Berkeley First municipal tax assessment financing a Federal program, called PACE Program (Property Assessed Clean Energy), funded nationwide through the Recovery Act.

The plan from Biden’s very practical Middle Class Task Force on Environmental Quality addresses and solves two issues:

1.  That homeowners who might move in a few years don’t retrofit with solar power. So this loan attaches to the home, not the borrower, and is passed along to the next buyers for 20 years till paid off.

2. That only a few rich cities can muster the bonds needed to offer the program. When I asked my Mayor why we were not joining with our neighbor Berkeley to offer Municipal Tax Assessment Financing, I was told “because we can’t get the bond financing”. Sonoma, San Francisco and these cities have followed in Berkeley’s footsteps.

Biden’s plan addresses that financial barrier by securing funding from the Recovery Act to provide cities with the wherewithall to make free solar power available to homeowners. The risk is low. Most homeowners pay the electricity bill. This simply replaces that bill with another for the same amount or less. The next buyer would pay the same set rate for the solar that stays the same, instead of electricity rates that continue to rise an average of 6% a year.

Berkeley First was a pioneering new way to make solar affordable. In a small pilot program  – that sold out in the first nine minutes (!) 40 homeowners in Berkeley won the chance to put solar on their houses and pay it back over twenty years through a property tax assessment added to their homeowners property tax.

In practice, that meant their household expenses would really not change at all, but they would be paying down solar instead of paying electricity bills monthly. The $100 or $200 that they used to send to PG&E would just get added to the mortgage bill each month instead; to pay down their solar roof.

I saw first hand how Berkeley First truly enabled anyone to go solar, it was so affordable.

I did solar estimates in the East Bay during that time and worked with people who’d managed to snare a place in Berkeley First. There were no nasty bank loan applications with those installs. Literally, no money changed hands.

So I really believe this would be the way to get ‘shovel-ready’ green jobs projects out almost instantly and clean the nations carbon emissions very quickly. Cities are ready. Homeowners are ready. Joe Biden: let it roll!

Image: Flikr user Whitehouse.gov

Source: Recovery Through Retrofit via SFGate

Additional info: Property Assessed Clean Energy

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • Mike B

    It sucks this is not available to me in Florida.. And the Power companies here are anti solar and pro nuke… they suck

  • Mike B

    It sucks this is not available to me in Florida.. And the Power companies here are anti solar and pro nuke… they suck

  • Mike B

    It sucks this is not available to me in Florida.. And the Power companies here are anti solar and pro nuke… they suck

  • Mike B

    It sucks this is not available to me in Florida.. And the Power companies here are anti solar and pro nuke… they suck

  • Ed

    I’m from Chicago. We get plenty of sun out here. Even in the winter! Let’s not forget that this program is great for individuals like myself, entrepreneurs, who want start a solar contracting business and create JOBS in this new industry. Its not just jobs for installers this creates new jobs for accountants, salesman, advertising, marketing, etc… sound familiar for those of you “out of a J.O.B”. This is a win-win-win situation. More green jobs- less pollution(less diseases)/prevent global warming -offset electricity bills. Who’s complaining!?

  • Ed

    I’m from Chicago. We get plenty of sun out here. Even in the winter! Let’s not forget that this program is great for individuals like myself, entrepreneurs, who want start a solar contracting business and create JOBS in this new industry. Its not just jobs for installers this creates new jobs for accountants, salesman, advertising, marketing, etc… sound familiar for those of you “out of a J.O.B”. This is a win-win-win situation. More green jobs- less pollution(less diseases)/prevent global warming -offset electricity bills. Who’s complaining!?

  • Roger Roster

    I strongly believe that for us in the US, alternate forms of energy is where we should be heading. However nothing should be adopted without adequate debate and discussion. Its time consumers and citizens read up on energy efficient technologies, renewable energy sources and how the implementation of these will benefit consumer. After all its they who pay the bills. One site that has been specially informative has been the Pacific Crest Transformer website.

  • Roger Roster

    I strongly believe that for us in the US, alternate forms of energy is where we should be heading. However nothing should be adopted without adequate debate and discussion. Its time consumers and citizens read up on energy efficient technologies, renewable energy sources and how the implementation of these will benefit consumer. After all its they who pay the bills. One site that has been specially informative has been the Pacific Crest Transformer website.

  • Roger Roster

    I strongly believe that for us in the US, alternate forms of energy is where we should be heading. However nothing should be adopted without adequate debate and discussion. Its time consumers and citizens read up on energy efficient technologies, renewable energy sources and how the implementation of these will benefit consumer. After all its they who pay the bills. One site that has been specially informative has been the Pacific Crest Transformer website.

  • Roger Roster

    I strongly believe that for us in the US, alternate forms of energy is where we should be heading. However nothing should be adopted without adequate debate and discussion. Its time consumers and citizens read up on energy efficient technologies, renewable energy sources and how the implementation of these will benefit consumer. After all its they who pay the bills. One site that has been specially informative has been the Pacific Crest Transformer website.

  • Susan Kraemer

    @ Chris. Heh. You may be right about the tipping point comparable to 1934 FHA founding. Ya gotta problem with that?

  • Susan Kraemer

    Actually Chris, given that solar just dropped like 40% this year and after the Federal tax credit of 30% (now that’s a subsidy!) most systems are about $15,000 to $25,000 to zero out your use. Then if you get 1Block off the Grid in your neighborhood, even less: http://planetsave.com/blog/2009/10/22/neighborly-solar-from-1bog-could-raise-phoenix-property-values/

    I did solar estimates for a living as recently as this Spring (PV and solar thermal), and agree about solar thermal being great bang for the buck, and essential first recourse, as I wrote about here…

    http://greenbuildingelements.com/2009/03/06/consider-a-new-measure-of-carbon-footprint/

    ..every home should have solar thermal, but again, it is covered with subsidies (30% Federal tax credits) and relatively cheap.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Actually Chris, given that solar just dropped like 40% this year and after the Federal tax credit of 30% (now that’s a subsidy!) most systems are about $15,000 to $25,000 to zero out your use. Then if you get 1Block off the Grid in your neighborhood, even less: http://planetsave.com/blog/2009/10/22/neighborly-solar-from-1bog-could-raise-phoenix-property-values/

    I did solar estimates for a living as recently as this Spring (PV and solar thermal), and agree about solar thermal being great bang for the buck, and essential first recourse, as I wrote about here…

    http://greenbuildingelements.com/2009/03/06/consider-a-new-measure-of-carbon-footprint/

    ..every home should have solar thermal, but again, it is covered with subsidies (30% Federal tax credits) and relatively cheap.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Actually Chris, given that solar just dropped like 40% this year and after the Federal tax credit of 30% (now that’s a subsidy!) most systems are about $15,000 to $25,000 to zero out your use. Then if you get 1Block off the Grid in your neighborhood, even less: http://planetsave.com/blog/2009/10/22/neighborly-solar-from-1bog-could-raise-phoenix-property-values/

    I did solar estimates for a living as recently as this Spring (PV and solar thermal), and agree about solar thermal being great bang for the buck, and essential first recourse, as I wrote about here…

    http://greenbuildingelements.com/2009/03/06/consider-a-new-measure-of-carbon-footprint/

    ..every home should have solar thermal, but again, it is covered with subsidies (30% Federal tax credits) and relatively cheap.

  • Chris Johnson

    In response to Susan’s insights and trenchant jab, in reverse order:

    No, ma’am. I got no problem with any of it. In fact I think it’s wonderful. And hopefully, merely a first step.

    I would greatly prefer that VP Biden and his troops extend the terms of the program to cover the capital costs for any/all sustainable energy upgrades, retrofits and ‘new house’ construction for wind power, solar thermal, and geothermal / hydronic systems. The goal should be, I believe, to achieve a ‘zero energy footprint’, or as close to zero as possible. Ditto (especially in drier places) for water re-use / conservation systems that have a significant up-front costs. Why favor one method over another in this green pursuit?

    Your colleague Zachary Shahan posted an article on 20 October that parsed the ‘market’ problem; why hasn’t solar caught on? It’s a pretty good article, but one has to wonder what he would have written if he’d waited a week or two. Would Mr. Shahan have appreciated the ‘tipping point’ nature of this new policy? Did the NYT or WP? Nope, no coverage!

    If one asks why there’s been so little coverage, perhaps the answer is that the President and his staff recognizes that they have many balls in the air right whose political viability remains undetermined, therefore risky.

    ‘Where you stand on an issue often depends on where you sit’ is an old Washington saying. You in California have somewhat different perspectives and a much more supportive set of state ‘incentives’ that has propelled solar power for more than here in Virginia, where solar is not nearly so popular.

    Other than that, Ms. Kraemer, I bow to your superior knowledge of the solar industry in general and your expertise in these issues in particular. And I look forward to enjoying your articles in the future.

    Cheers.

  • Chris Johnson

    In response to Susan’s insights and trenchant jab, in reverse order:

    No, ma’am. I got no problem with any of it. In fact I think it’s wonderful. And hopefully, merely a first step.

    I would greatly prefer that VP Biden and his troops extend the terms of the program to cover the capital costs for any/all sustainable energy upgrades, retrofits and ‘new house’ construction for wind power, solar thermal, and geothermal / hydronic systems. The goal should be, I believe, to achieve a ‘zero energy footprint’, or as close to zero as possible. Ditto (especially in drier places) for water re-use / conservation systems that have a significant up-front costs. Why favor one method over another in this green pursuit?

    Your colleague Zachary Shahan posted an article on 20 October that parsed the ‘market’ problem; why hasn’t solar caught on? It’s a pretty good article, but one has to wonder what he would have written if he’d waited a week or two. Would Mr. Shahan have appreciated the ‘tipping point’ nature of this new policy? Did the NYT or WP? Nope, no coverage!

    If one asks why there’s been so little coverage, perhaps the answer is that the President and his staff recognizes that they have many balls in the air right whose political viability remains undetermined, therefore risky.

    ‘Where you stand on an issue often depends on where you sit’ is an old Washington saying. You in California have somewhat different perspectives and a much more supportive set of state ‘incentives’ that has propelled solar power for more than here in Virginia, where solar is not nearly so popular.

    Other than that, Ms. Kraemer, I bow to your superior knowledge of the solar industry in general and your expertise in these issues in particular. And I look forward to enjoying your articles in the future.

    Cheers.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Peak is 1PM to 6PM actually: the afternoon air conditioners at offices. For this reason in our Feed in Tariff – PG&E offers the highest rate from 1PM to 6PM on weekday afternoons. The sun is the problem, and the best solution.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Peak is 1PM to 6PM actually: the afternoon air conditioners at offices. For this reason in our Feed in Tariff – PG&E offers the highest rate from 1PM to 6PM on weekday afternoons. The sun is the problem, and the best solution.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Peak is 1PM to 6PM actually: the afternoon air conditioners at offices. For this reason in our Feed in Tariff – PG&E offers the highest rate from 1PM to 6PM on weekday afternoons. The sun is the problem, and the best solution.

  • Susan Kraemer

    @ Chris. Heh. You may be right about the tipping point comparable to 1934 FHA founding. Ya gotta problem with that?

  • Chris Johnson

    Some responses to earlier postings and general ruminations:

    Susan said, in response to my earlier comments, “No, Municipal propery tax assessment financing is not a subsidy; it is a financing mechanism.”

    In reply, I would beg to differ with the gracious lady, even while recognizing that my point is one of interpretation. Not to be disputatious, but since the government is providing financing for the capital costs associated with installing the systems, which costs for an average home generally run to around $50,000, and which costs currently deter many homeowners from taking the plunge, then this beneficial program appears to be a subsidy. Despite that the homeowners will have to reimburse. In monetary terms, the ‘free use of capital’ can only be considered a subsidy. And even if the homeowners’ have to pay the interest expense, the very fact that the government is providing the upfront capital makes the program a subsidy of some sort.

    But all that matters not a wit in the larger picture.

    On the other hand, if one is intent on avoiding potential criticism (and one can easily imagine the nay-sayers’ poison), then call it something other than a subsidy. How about ‘beneficient government program?’

    I agree with Russ’s comments about solar heating. Application of the ‘beneficient program’ for other than solar, small-scale geothermal — also known as hydronic — could easily provide huge savings energy savings, especially in heating and cooling to replace our exceptionally wasteful HVAC systems. Approximately 30% (depending on locale) of home energy use is heating and cooling and hot water heating. Hydronic systems that use the local earth as a 62 degree heat exchanger, especially if tied in with solar water heating, could eliminate those costs. Hydronic, however, lacks the ‘sex appeal’ of solar and is not so widely known or appreciated, although its impact could probably equal (or get close to equaling) that of solar.

    Thanks to Susan for listing the federal and state ‘subsidies’ websites, which I will visit and try to learn from (sorry about the dangling participle).

    Susan’s statement that “Dow is not a big player in solar. And shingles are a hard sell” is certainly on target. Yet one cannot overlook the negative aesthetics associated with solar panels that tend to deter many homeowners – and homeowner associations’ by-laws. “Space cadet city” is a comment many traditional homeowners prefer to avoid. Although several companies make solar shingles, they really haven’t yet caught on, probably due to cost. This new government program could help change that. (Okay, so I’m an optimist, too.)

    Dan wrote: “…Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question…” Bravo, Dan. But the trick is to make the economics support the ethical objective, which is what this innovative program appears capable of accomplishing. Hooray. And by the way, as an ‘old cold warrior’, I strongly agree with your other comments regarding the national and geostrategic implications of smarter energy policies.

    In conclusion, this program may turn out to be a ‘tipping point’ in our history. The effects – broad propagation of solar and other renewable energy systems that reduce GHGs and improve our national and international standing will not take effect immediately, but the anticipatory impact could be significant in the coming months.

    It may be considered an overstatement to compare this policy announcement to the founding of the FHA in 1934, but perhaps after a few years have passed, the comparison will be more concrete. In fact, this more recent act has the potential of far greater impacts, not only in national economic and social contexts but extending to enhance national interests globally. The implications are vast. Maybe…

    The micro-economic dimensions of the proposal are well beyond my capabilities to deduce or even contemplate with any degree of completeness, but since a) all money is fiat (ie, imaginary) by definition, b) debt assets are as valuable as non-debt assets, and c) the finance industry revels in formulating and trading an ever-increasing volume of creative instruments (again, imaginary if not ephemeral), then one can only conclude that the financial wizards will greet this development with gleaming eyes. Follow the market and the money!

  • Chris Johnson

    Some responses to earlier postings and general ruminations:

    Susan said, in response to my earlier comments, “No, Municipal propery tax assessment financing is not a subsidy; it is a financing mechanism.”

    In reply, I would beg to differ with the gracious lady, even while recognizing that my point is one of interpretation. Not to be disputatious, but since the government is providing financing for the capital costs associated with installing the systems, which costs for an average home generally run to around $50,000, and which costs currently deter many homeowners from taking the plunge, then this beneficial program appears to be a subsidy. Despite that the homeowners will have to reimburse. In monetary terms, the ‘free use of capital’ can only be considered a subsidy. And even if the homeowners’ have to pay the interest expense, the very fact that the government is providing the upfront capital makes the program a subsidy of some sort.

    But all that matters not a wit in the larger picture.

    On the other hand, if one is intent on avoiding potential criticism (and one can easily imagine the nay-sayers’ poison), then call it something other than a subsidy. How about ‘beneficient government program?’

    I agree with Russ’s comments about solar heating. Application of the ‘beneficient program’ for other than solar, small-scale geothermal — also known as hydronic — could easily provide huge savings energy savings, especially in heating and cooling to replace our exceptionally wasteful HVAC systems. Approximately 30% (depending on locale) of home energy use is heating and cooling and hot water heating. Hydronic systems that use the local earth as a 62 degree heat exchanger, especially if tied in with solar water heating, could eliminate those costs. Hydronic, however, lacks the ‘sex appeal’ of solar and is not so widely known or appreciated, although its impact could probably equal (or get close to equaling) that of solar.

    Thanks to Susan for listing the federal and state ‘subsidies’ websites, which I will visit and try to learn from (sorry about the dangling participle).

    Susan’s statement that “Dow is not a big player in solar. And shingles are a hard sell” is certainly on target. Yet one cannot overlook the negative aesthetics associated with solar panels that tend to deter many homeowners – and homeowner associations’ by-laws. “Space cadet city” is a comment many traditional homeowners prefer to avoid. Although several companies make solar shingles, they really haven’t yet caught on, probably due to cost. This new government program could help change that. (Okay, so I’m an optimist, too.)

    Dan wrote: “…Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question…” Bravo, Dan. But the trick is to make the economics support the ethical objective, which is what this innovative program appears capable of accomplishing. Hooray. And by the way, as an ‘old cold warrior’, I strongly agree with your other comments regarding the national and geostrategic implications of smarter energy policies.

    In conclusion, this program may turn out to be a ‘tipping point’ in our history. The effects – broad propagation of solar and other renewable energy systems that reduce GHGs and improve our national and international standing will not take effect immediately, but the anticipatory impact could be significant in the coming months.

    It may be considered an overstatement to compare this policy announcement to the founding of the FHA in 1934, but perhaps after a few years have passed, the comparison will be more concrete. In fact, this more recent act has the potential of far greater impacts, not only in national economic and social contexts but extending to enhance national interests globally. The implications are vast. Maybe…

    The micro-economic dimensions of the proposal are well beyond my capabilities to deduce or even contemplate with any degree of completeness, but since a) all money is fiat (ie, imaginary) by definition, b) debt assets are as valuable as non-debt assets, and c) the finance industry revels in formulating and trading an ever-increasing volume of creative instruments (again, imaginary if not ephemeral), then one can only conclude that the financial wizards will greet this development with gleaming eyes. Follow the market and the money!

  • Chris Johnson

    Some responses to earlier postings and general ruminations:

    Susan said, in response to my earlier comments, “No, Municipal propery tax assessment financing is not a subsidy; it is a financing mechanism.”

    In reply, I would beg to differ with the gracious lady, even while recognizing that my point is one of interpretation. Not to be disputatious, but since the government is providing financing for the capital costs associated with installing the systems, which costs for an average home generally run to around $50,000, and which costs currently deter many homeowners from taking the plunge, then this beneficial program appears to be a subsidy. Despite that the homeowners will have to reimburse. In monetary terms, the ‘free use of capital’ can only be considered a subsidy. And even if the homeowners’ have to pay the interest expense, the very fact that the government is providing the upfront capital makes the program a subsidy of some sort.

    But all that matters not a wit in the larger picture.

    On the other hand, if one is intent on avoiding potential criticism (and one can easily imagine the nay-sayers’ poison), then call it something other than a subsidy. How about ‘beneficient government program?’

    I agree with Russ’s comments about solar heating. Application of the ‘beneficient program’ for other than solar, small-scale geothermal — also known as hydronic — could easily provide huge savings energy savings, especially in heating and cooling to replace our exceptionally wasteful HVAC systems. Approximately 30% (depending on locale) of home energy use is heating and cooling and hot water heating. Hydronic systems that use the local earth as a 62 degree heat exchanger, especially if tied in with solar water heating, could eliminate those costs. Hydronic, however, lacks the ‘sex appeal’ of solar and is not so widely known or appreciated, although its impact could probably equal (or get close to equaling) that of solar.

    Thanks to Susan for listing the federal and state ‘subsidies’ websites, which I will visit and try to learn from (sorry about the dangling participle).

    Susan’s statement that “Dow is not a big player in solar. And shingles are a hard sell” is certainly on target. Yet one cannot overlook the negative aesthetics associated with solar panels that tend to deter many homeowners – and homeowner associations’ by-laws. “Space cadet city” is a comment many traditional homeowners prefer to avoid. Although several companies make solar shingles, they really haven’t yet caught on, probably due to cost. This new government program could help change that. (Okay, so I’m an optimist, too.)

    Dan wrote: “…Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question…” Bravo, Dan. But the trick is to make the economics support the ethical objective, which is what this innovative program appears capable of accomplishing. Hooray. And by the way, as an ‘old cold warrior’, I strongly agree with your other comments regarding the national and geostrategic implications of smarter energy policies.

    In conclusion, this program may turn out to be a ‘tipping point’ in our history. The effects – broad propagation of solar and other renewable energy systems that reduce GHGs and improve our national and international standing will not take effect immediately, but the anticipatory impact could be significant in the coming months.

    It may be considered an overstatement to compare this policy announcement to the founding of the FHA in 1934, but perhaps after a few years have passed, the comparison will be more concrete. In fact, this more recent act has the potential of far greater impacts, not only in national economic and social contexts but extending to enhance national interests globally. The implications are vast. Maybe…

    The micro-economic dimensions of the proposal are well beyond my capabilities to deduce or even contemplate with any degree of completeness, but since a) all money is fiat (ie, imaginary) by definition, b) debt assets are as valuable as non-debt assets, and c) the finance industry revels in formulating and trading an ever-increasing volume of creative instruments (again, imaginary if not ephemeral), then one can only conclude that the financial wizards will greet this development with gleaming eyes. Follow the market and the money!

  • Chris Johnson

    Some responses to earlier postings and general ruminations:

    Susan said, in response to my earlier comments, “No, Municipal propery tax assessment financing is not a subsidy; it is a financing mechanism.”

    In reply, I would beg to differ with the gracious lady, even while recognizing that my point is one of interpretation. Not to be disputatious, but since the government is providing financing for the capital costs associated with installing the systems, which costs for an average home generally run to around $50,000, and which costs currently deter many homeowners from taking the plunge, then this beneficial program appears to be a subsidy. Despite that the homeowners will have to reimburse. In monetary terms, the ‘free use of capital’ can only be considered a subsidy. And even if the homeowners’ have to pay the interest expense, the very fact that the government is providing the upfront capital makes the program a subsidy of some sort.

    But all that matters not a wit in the larger picture.

    On the other hand, if one is intent on avoiding potential criticism (and one can easily imagine the nay-sayers’ poison), then call it something other than a subsidy. How about ‘beneficient government program?’

    I agree with Russ’s comments about solar heating. Application of the ‘beneficient program’ for other than solar, small-scale geothermal — also known as hydronic — could easily provide huge savings energy savings, especially in heating and cooling to replace our exceptionally wasteful HVAC systems. Approximately 30% (depending on locale) of home energy use is heating and cooling and hot water heating. Hydronic systems that use the local earth as a 62 degree heat exchanger, especially if tied in with solar water heating, could eliminate those costs. Hydronic, however, lacks the ‘sex appeal’ of solar and is not so widely known or appreciated, although its impact could probably equal (or get close to equaling) that of solar.

    Thanks to Susan for listing the federal and state ‘subsidies’ websites, which I will visit and try to learn from (sorry about the dangling participle).

    Susan’s statement that “Dow is not a big player in solar. And shingles are a hard sell” is certainly on target. Yet one cannot overlook the negative aesthetics associated with solar panels that tend to deter many homeowners – and homeowner associations’ by-laws. “Space cadet city” is a comment many traditional homeowners prefer to avoid. Although several companies make solar shingles, they really haven’t yet caught on, probably due to cost. This new government program could help change that. (Okay, so I’m an optimist, too.)

    Dan wrote: “…Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question…” Bravo, Dan. But the trick is to make the economics support the ethical objective, which is what this innovative program appears capable of accomplishing. Hooray. And by the way, as an ‘old cold warrior’, I strongly agree with your other comments regarding the national and geostrategic implications of smarter energy policies.

    In conclusion, this program may turn out to be a ‘tipping point’ in our history. The effects – broad propagation of solar and other renewable energy systems that reduce GHGs and improve our national and international standing will not take effect immediately, but the anticipatory impact could be significant in the coming months.

    It may be considered an overstatement to compare this policy announcement to the founding of the FHA in 1934, but perhaps after a few years have passed, the comparison will be more concrete. In fact, this more recent act has the potential of far greater impacts, not only in national economic and social contexts but extending to enhance national interests globally. The implications are vast. Maybe…

    The micro-economic dimensions of the proposal are well beyond my capabilities to deduce or even contemplate with any degree of completeness, but since a) all money is fiat (ie, imaginary) by definition, b) debt assets are as valuable as non-debt assets, and c) the finance industry revels in formulating and trading an ever-increasing volume of creative instruments (again, imaginary if not ephemeral), then one can only conclude that the financial wizards will greet this development with gleaming eyes. Follow the market and the money!

  • Susan Kraemer

    Actually Chris, given that solar just dropped like 40% this year and after the Federal tax credit of 30% (now that’s a subsidy!) most systems are about $15,000 to $25,000 to zero out your use. Then if you get 1Block off the Grid in your neighborhood, even less: http://planetsave.com/blog/2009/10/22/neighborly-solar-from-1bog-could-raise-phoenix-property-values/

    I did solar estimates for a living as recently as this Spring (PV and solar thermal), and agree about solar thermal being great bang for the buck, and essential first recourse, as I wrote about here…

    http://greenbuildingelements.com/2009/03/06/consider-a-new-measure-of-carbon-footprint/

    ..every home should have solar thermal, but again, it is covered with subsidies (30% Federal tax credits) and relatively cheap.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Peak is 1PM to 6PM actually: the afternoon air conditioners at offices. For this reason in our Feed in Tariff – PG&E offers the highest rate from 1PM to 6PM on weekday afternoons. The sun is the problem, and the best solution.

  • Susan Kraemer

    “Maybe solar panels aren’t as efficient in say, Illinois, where I live.”

    @ Dan, Illinois has no worse sun potential no worse than Germany; the world leader in solar.

    Re: “If I can get them for less than lets say thousands of dollars and pay it off in this incremental way the Berkley plan is talking about, well that sounds pretty good.”

    The cost is the same with Berkeley First (but you can get it down with 1Block off the Grid when they bring a neighborhood discount to your city) but spread over 20 years you pay only $100 or $200 a month, same or less than your current electricity bill. No upfront money.

  • Bill Woods

    “It wouldn’t cause PG&E to charge others more. If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.”

    They’ll still have to build capacity, since peak demand is generally in the late afternoon–evening — by which time Solar PV isn’t doing much. They’ll save some on fuel.

    http://www.caiso.com/outlook/outlook.html

    “@ Dan, Illinois has no worse sun potential no worse than Germany; the world leader in solar.”

    Not exactly a recommendation. Installing PV in Germany makes very little sense; it wouldn’t be happening without an enormous FIT subsidy.

  • Bill Woods

    “It wouldn’t cause PG&E to charge others more. If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.”

    They’ll still have to build capacity, since peak demand is generally in the late afternoon–evening — by which time Solar PV isn’t doing much. They’ll save some on fuel.

    http://www.caiso.com/outlook/outlook.html

    “@ Dan, Illinois has no worse sun potential no worse than Germany; the world leader in solar.”

    Not exactly a recommendation. Installing PV in Germany makes very little sense; it wouldn’t be happening without an enormous FIT subsidy.

  • Dan

    Its great that somethings being done. We simply need to stop using fossil fuels. Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question. We complain about the rich and elites making money off all this stuff but globally we all are the rich and elites. Just the fact that we’re using computers puts up on the top percentile of human affluence. Incentives to stop using coal and petroleum range from the health repercussions of pollution to the inevitability of just running out of the resources (Although I admit we have loads of coal). Anyways, none of that stuff is really the point. It would be great if we got ourselves to consume less energy and produce what we do use in a sustainable way but ultimately we are doing terrible injustices to the rest of the globe because of global warming, extracting resources from third world countries without allowing those countries gain the full benefits, and foreign policies that lead to wars, assassinations, nationalistic hogwash, all in the name of economics. Anything that gets us going down the road of fixing all this stuff is good. If the American economy takes a hit than so be it. It really seems troublesome that we are so concerned with this terrible recession and the economic this and that that we overlook the fact that we need to make very drastic changes in the way we view the world. This is not America’s problem. This is a global issue. Very true jimmy. Maybe solar panels aren’t as efficient in say, Illinois, where I live. But lets get the ball rolling. If I can get them for less than lets say thousands of dollars and pay it off in this incremental way the Berkley plan is talking about, well that sounds pretty good. The western world needs to open a history book and realize we’ve pretty much step on the entire globe in the name of our own progress. Chill out and pay a higher electricity bill and be a vegetarian man. Take one for the team.

    Oh and solar panels are just one piece of a very large and complex issue, but one step at a time is the only way to get anywhere.

    And sorry for being all self righteous or whatnot. I’m not really doing all I could to fix every issue in the world but being positive pretty important.

  • Dan

    Its great that somethings being done. We simply need to stop using fossil fuels. Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question. We complain about the rich and elites making money off all this stuff but globally we all are the rich and elites. Just the fact that we’re using computers puts up on the top percentile of human affluence. Incentives to stop using coal and petroleum range from the health repercussions of pollution to the inevitability of just running out of the resources (Although I admit we have loads of coal). Anyways, none of that stuff is really the point. It would be great if we got ourselves to consume less energy and produce what we do use in a sustainable way but ultimately we are doing terrible injustices to the rest of the globe because of global warming, extracting resources from third world countries without allowing those countries gain the full benefits, and foreign policies that lead to wars, assassinations, nationalistic hogwash, all in the name of economics. Anything that gets us going down the road of fixing all this stuff is good. If the American economy takes a hit than so be it. It really seems troublesome that we are so concerned with this terrible recession and the economic this and that that we overlook the fact that we need to make very drastic changes in the way we view the world. This is not America’s problem. This is a global issue. Very true jimmy. Maybe solar panels aren’t as efficient in say, Illinois, where I live. But lets get the ball rolling. If I can get them for less than lets say thousands of dollars and pay it off in this incremental way the Berkley plan is talking about, well that sounds pretty good. The western world needs to open a history book and realize we’ve pretty much step on the entire globe in the name of our own progress. Chill out and pay a higher electricity bill and be a vegetarian man. Take one for the team.

    Oh and solar panels are just one piece of a very large and complex issue, but one step at a time is the only way to get anywhere.

    And sorry for being all self righteous or whatnot. I’m not really doing all I could to fix every issue in the world but being positive pretty important.

  • Dan

    Its great that somethings being done. We simply need to stop using fossil fuels. Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question. We complain about the rich and elites making money off all this stuff but globally we all are the rich and elites. Just the fact that we’re using computers puts up on the top percentile of human affluence. Incentives to stop using coal and petroleum range from the health repercussions of pollution to the inevitability of just running out of the resources (Although I admit we have loads of coal). Anyways, none of that stuff is really the point. It would be great if we got ourselves to consume less energy and produce what we do use in a sustainable way but ultimately we are doing terrible injustices to the rest of the globe because of global warming, extracting resources from third world countries without allowing those countries gain the full benefits, and foreign policies that lead to wars, assassinations, nationalistic hogwash, all in the name of economics. Anything that gets us going down the road of fixing all this stuff is good. If the American economy takes a hit than so be it. It really seems troublesome that we are so concerned with this terrible recession and the economic this and that that we overlook the fact that we need to make very drastic changes in the way we view the world. This is not America’s problem. This is a global issue. Very true jimmy. Maybe solar panels aren’t as efficient in say, Illinois, where I live. But lets get the ball rolling. If I can get them for less than lets say thousands of dollars and pay it off in this incremental way the Berkley plan is talking about, well that sounds pretty good. The western world needs to open a history book and realize we’ve pretty much step on the entire globe in the name of our own progress. Chill out and pay a higher electricity bill and be a vegetarian man. Take one for the team.

    Oh and solar panels are just one piece of a very large and complex issue, but one step at a time is the only way to get anywhere.

    And sorry for being all self righteous or whatnot. I’m not really doing all I could to fix every issue in the world but being positive pretty important.

  • Dan

    Its great that somethings being done. We simply need to stop using fossil fuels. Its not an economic question. Its an ethical question. We complain about the rich and elites making money off all this stuff but globally we all are the rich and elites. Just the fact that we’re using computers puts up on the top percentile of human affluence. Incentives to stop using coal and petroleum range from the health repercussions of pollution to the inevitability of just running out of the resources (Although I admit we have loads of coal). Anyways, none of that stuff is really the point. It would be great if we got ourselves to consume less energy and produce what we do use in a sustainable way but ultimately we are doing terrible injustices to the rest of the globe because of global warming, extracting resources from third world countries without allowing those countries gain the full benefits, and foreign policies that lead to wars, assassinations, nationalistic hogwash, all in the name of economics. Anything that gets us going down the road of fixing all this stuff is good. If the American economy takes a hit than so be it. It really seems troublesome that we are so concerned with this terrible recession and the economic this and that that we overlook the fact that we need to make very drastic changes in the way we view the world. This is not America’s problem. This is a global issue. Very true jimmy. Maybe solar panels aren’t as efficient in say, Illinois, where I live. But lets get the ball rolling. If I can get them for less than lets say thousands of dollars and pay it off in this incremental way the Berkley plan is talking about, well that sounds pretty good. The western world needs to open a history book and realize we’ve pretty much step on the entire globe in the name of our own progress. Chill out and pay a higher electricity bill and be a vegetarian man. Take one for the team.

    Oh and solar panels are just one piece of a very large and complex issue, but one step at a time is the only way to get anywhere.

    And sorry for being all self righteous or whatnot. I’m not really doing all I could to fix every issue in the world but being positive pretty important.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Yeah, but people don’t need long term financing so much for solar thermal; its about $3 -5,000 now with the Recovery Act 30% rebates (check your additional state rebates at http://www.dsireusa.org) so long term bonds are not as needed.

    The idea of municipal financing is that it enables regular folks to make long term infrastructure investments that pay off huge savings, yet keep the monthly payments to below current monthly electricity cost.

    Solar PV can save you as much as $300,000 in electricity costs over 20 years even if your house uses gas for hot water now, (even more if it is all-electric).

    The math if you want to see your savings is here:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2009/07/10/really-solar-is-actually-cheaper-than-pge/

    …or get a solar quote and ask the estimator to figure what your electricity cost over 20 years would be given your percentage rise in electricity rates (in your state) if you DON’T go solar.

    Then subtract the cost of the solar, plus interest, and the difference = what you save over the loan life.

  • Susan Kraemer

    “Maybe solar panels aren’t as efficient in say, Illinois, where I live.”

    @ Dan, Illinois has no worse sun potential no worse than Germany; the world leader in solar.

    Re: “If I can get them for less than lets say thousands of dollars and pay it off in this incremental way the Berkley plan is talking about, well that sounds pretty good.”

    The cost is the same with Berkeley First (but you can get it down with 1Block off the Grid when they bring a neighborhood discount to your city) but spread over 20 years you pay only $100 or $200 a month, same or less than your current electricity bill. No upfront money.

  • Susan Kraemer

    Yeah, but people don’t need long term financing so much for solar thermal; its about $3 -5,000 now with the Recovery Act 30% rebates (check your additional state rebates at http://www.dsireusa.org) so long term bonds are not as needed.

    The idea of municipal financing is that it enables regular folks to make long term infrastructure investments that pay off huge savings, yet keep the monthly payments to below current monthly electricity cost.

    Solar PV can save you as much as $300,000 in electricity costs over 20 years even if your house uses gas for hot water now, (even more if it is all-electric).

    The math if you want to see your savings is here:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2009/07/10/really-solar-is-actually-cheaper-than-pge/

    …or get a solar quote and ask the estimator to figure what your electricity cost over 20 years would be given your percentage rise in electricity rates (in your state) if you DON’T go solar.

    Then subtract the cost of the solar, plus interest, and the difference = what you save over the loan life.

  • russ

    The first solar for any house should be panels for hot water.

    They are the most efficient – something like 4 times better than PV. They cost less and are far simpler.

    A big portion of the average household electric expenditure is for hot water – much of which can be avoided.

    Not as sexy as PV but for virtually everyone it is a better start.

  • russ

    The first solar for any house should be panels for hot water.

    They are the most efficient – something like 4 times better than PV. They cost less and are far simpler.

    A big portion of the average household electric expenditure is for hot water – much of which can be avoided.

    Not as sexy as PV but for virtually everyone it is a better start.

  • Susan Kraemer

    @Chris, “Will this ’subsidy’ apply only for Solar PV?”

    No, Municipal propery tax assessment financing is not a subsidy; it is a financing mechanism.

    But there are subsidies and/or 30% tax credits for all renewable energy sources in the Recovery Act. You can check your state’s subsidies and rebates and tax credits at

    Federal

    http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?state=us&re=1&EE=1

    State by state

    http://www.dsireusa.org/

    (Dow is not a big player in solar. And shingles are a hard sell)

  • Susan Kraemer

    @Chris, “Will this ’subsidy’ apply only for Solar PV?”

    No, Municipal propery tax assessment financing is not a subsidy; it is a financing mechanism.

    But there are subsidies and/or 30% tax credits for all renewable energy sources in the Recovery Act. You can check your state’s subsidies and rebates and tax credits at

    Federal

    http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?state=us&re=1&EE=1

    State by state

    http://www.dsireusa.org/

    (Dow is not a big player in solar. And shingles are a hard sell)

  • http://www.crSolar.com chris rath

    What about the renters of houses and apartments that want to go solar..can I put a few panels on the white house and own some energy production also so my bills wont go up? Maybe some wealthy land owners would let some people put a few panels and wind gens on their property, I got a little up north but it needs a power line maybe you can run one by the pickens farm also, I think he needs one.

    CR

  • http://www.crSolar.com chris rath

    What about the renters of houses and apartments that want to go solar..can I put a few panels on the white house and own some energy production also so my bills wont go up? Maybe some wealthy land owners would let some people put a few panels and wind gens on their property, I got a little up north but it needs a power line maybe you can run one by the pickens farm also, I think he needs one.

    CR

  • Chris Johnson

    Ahhh, a correction to my last. (Shoulda been more patient…)

    Hooray for Joe, I think… We should never underestimate the potential for disaster, or for a few rich and powerful to ensure they get richer and powerfuller…

  • Chris Johnson

    Ahhh, a correction to my last. (Shoulda been more patient…)

    Hooray for Joe, I think… We should never underestimate the potential for disaster, or for a few rich and powerful to ensure they get richer and powerfuller…

  • Chris Johnson

    If Jimmy is not a lawyer, I would be surprised. Tough questions need to be asked repeatedly, and every answer will spawn several more questions.

    Here’s a couple more: Will this ‘subsidy’ apply only for Solar PV? Or will it apply to wind power generators as well? How about solar hot water? How about geothermal heating and cooling? As we know, heating and cooling generally accounts for more than a third of household energy consumption. If the objective is to increase renewable energy use then these should certainly qualify for equivalent financial consideration.

    Here’s another question: how about solar PV roof tiles? Hmmm, any thoughts about linke between Dow Chemical’s recent announcement re solar PV roof tiles and Mr. Biden, a Delaware resident who just may be aware that Dow is big in Wilmington?

    I’m not complaining one bit. To get solar and other renewable energy production methods moving, VP Biden’s effort should be lauded: the economics will all work out.

    Here’s another question: shouldn’t corporate enterprises — hotels, office buildings, etc. ad infinitum — be offered similar deals?

    If Jimmy is not aware that most everything in Washington, DC starts with a ‘nose under the tent’, then I would propose he consider that possibility.

    Hooray for Joe!

  • Chris Johnson

    If Jimmy is not a lawyer, I would be surprised. Tough questions need to be asked repeatedly, and every answer will spawn several more questions.

    Here’s a couple more: Will this ‘subsidy’ apply only for Solar PV? Or will it apply to wind power generators as well? How about solar hot water? How about geothermal heating and cooling? As we know, heating and cooling generally accounts for more than a third of household energy consumption. If the objective is to increase renewable energy use then these should certainly qualify for equivalent financial consideration.

    Here’s another question: how about solar PV roof tiles? Hmmm, any thoughts about linke between Dow Chemical’s recent announcement re solar PV roof tiles and Mr. Biden, a Delaware resident who just may be aware that Dow is big in Wilmington?

    I’m not complaining one bit. To get solar and other renewable energy production methods moving, VP Biden’s effort should be lauded: the economics will all work out.

    Here’s another question: shouldn’t corporate enterprises — hotels, office buildings, etc. ad infinitum — be offered similar deals?

    If Jimmy is not aware that most everything in Washington, DC starts with a ‘nose under the tent’, then I would propose he consider that possibility.

    Hooray for Joe!

  • Philip E. White

    This is the kind of creative thinking that was at the root of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Just more political ‘SNAKE OIL’.

    [Ed - quite the opposite, actually. Banks sold ever rising mortgages under false pretenses that snookered people out of home affordability. This does opposite; sets a standard rate for electricity for 20 years, then its free]

  • Philip E. White

    This is the kind of creative thinking that was at the root of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Just more political ‘SNAKE OIL’.

    [Ed - quite the opposite, actually. Banks sold ever rising mortgages under false pretenses that snookered people out of home affordability. This does opposite; sets a standard rate for electricity for 20 years, then its free]

  • Susan Kraemer

    @Chris, “Will this ’subsidy’ apply only for Solar PV?”

    No, Municipal propery tax assessment financing is not a subsidy; it is a financing mechanism.

    But there are subsidies and/or 30% tax credits for all renewable energy sources in the Recovery Act. You can check your state’s subsidies and rebates and tax credits at

    Federal

    http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?state=us&re=1&EE=1

    State by state

    http://www.dsireusa.org/

    (Dow is not a big player in solar. And shingles are a hard sell)

  • Susan Kraemer

    People can and do get all their electricity from a solar roof. That’s a fact.

    The CPUC controls charges for PG&E. It wouldn’t cause PG&E to charge others more. If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.

    “Where are the hard numbers on the long-term financial effects of the Berkeley project?”

    I don’t think you understand that the money comes from each individual homeowner who chooses solar, paid over 20 years.

    The Feds just front the money to the city to front the money to the solar company so they can start on it right away. The Fed gets paid back over 20 years.

  • Susan Kraemer

    People can and do get all their electricity from a solar roof. That’s a fact.

    The CPUC controls charges for PG&E. It wouldn’t cause PG&E to charge others more. If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.

    “Where are the hard numbers on the long-term financial effects of the Berkeley project?”

    I don’t think you understand that the money comes from each individual homeowner who chooses solar, paid over 20 years.

    The Feds just front the money to the city to front the money to the solar company so they can start on it right away. The Fed gets paid back over 20 years.

  • http://www.earthmindedonline.com Donna Rennemo

    The Recovery through Retrofit program for solar panel implementation is a great step forward. There needs to be an outreach program that broadens awareness about this opportunity.

  • http://www.earthmindedonline.com Donna Rennemo

    The Recovery through Retrofit program for solar panel implementation is a great step forward. There needs to be an outreach program that broadens awareness about this opportunity.

  • Bob

    Good Idea. I hope many cities across the nation will implement and encourage this concept.

    Will it work for everyone? Of course not, however it is a step in the right direction. It will help spread solar to the masses as well as increasing solar jobs and opportunities. And it will lessen our dependeny on non-clean energy.

  • Bob

    Good Idea. I hope many cities across the nation will implement and encourage this concept.

    Will it work for everyone? Of course not, however it is a step in the right direction. It will help spread solar to the masses as well as increasing solar jobs and opportunities. And it will lessen our dependeny on non-clean energy.

  • Bob

    Good Idea. I hope many cities across the nation will implement and encourage this concept.

    Will it work for everyone? Of course not, however it is a step in the right direction. It will help spread solar to the masses as well as increasing solar jobs and opportunities. And it will lessen our dependeny on non-clean energy.

  • Bob

    Good Idea. I hope many cities across the nation will implement and encourage this concept.

    Will it work for everyone? Of course not, however it is a step in the right direction. It will help spread solar to the masses as well as increasing solar jobs and opportunities. And it will lessen our dependeny on non-clean energy.

  • Jimmy

    “People can and do get all their electricity from a solar roof. That’s a fact.”

    I am not arguing that SOME people DO get all of their electricity from a solar roof, but nationally, I would say that percentage of people would be small.

    Not everyone has the luxury of living in a house designed specifically to run solely off passive solar energy.

    [Ed- Only solar PV solar panels make electricity - passive solar energy merely conserves what warmth/coolness you have]

    So, for those who cannot get all of their energy needs from a solar roof, then they are going to have to pay a utility company to offset their energy needs. So, this would mean two payments for that person – the “payment” on their solar, and the cost to offset the remainder of their energy needs.

    “The CPUC controls charges for PG&E.”

    I promise I’m not trying to be antagonistic, but this seems like a very narrow view of the world. When we’re talking about legislation that affects the entire country, then we have to realize that the rest of the US doesn’t get their energy from PG&E, and the CPUC doesn’t regulate utilities outside of CA.

    “If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.”

    Forgive me, but I don’t understand the math here. If I’m not mistaken, the majority of a Utility Companies expenditures goes to operational expenses, not expansion.

    While the need for additional expansion WOULD decrease if enough people “did this”, it wouldn’t decrease the everyday operational expenses of running a utility company. So, those who -by necessity- were still served by the utility company, would, by necessity, see their rates increase as the operational expenses needed to run said utility were spread over fewer subscribers.

    Of course, this could eventually lead to the utility company shutting down facilities, which would lower operational expenses, but we’ll save discussion on the effects of hundreds, if not thousands of utility company employees being without a job for another post.

    “I don’t think you understand that the money comes from each individual homeowner who chooses solar, paid over 20 years.”

    No, I understand perfectly that the “hard” cost of the solar would be paid for by the individual homeowner. But it doesn’t consider the “soft” costs of going solar.

    [Ed- soft costs are also paid by homeowner]

    There are maintenance costs, of course, and also -for those who cannot derive all of their energy needs from solar- the cost of installing a dual-source system to power their home, the cost of replacing broken and damaged panels due to inclement weather, the cost of lost wages and jobs due to the proposed decreased need for grid power, and of course, the cost of a large-scale launch of such a program. The marketing, advertising, and information dispensing would be rather steep for something like this if enacted on a national scale. These are just a few of the “soft” costs that immediately come to mind, and I’m sure there are many, many more.

    There is also the question of how this would affect home sales. Will people be willing to “inherit” a tax when they purchase a home that has had a solar roof installed?

    [Ed- sure; because they won't pay electric bills. Cheaper over the years as electric bills rise]

    Especially if that home still requires grid power. What if I, as a homeowner, don’t WANT a solar roof?

    To me, to launch a program like this without answering a few more questions, and again, basing it on the response of 40 Southern California homeowners, seems rather short sighted and ill-conceived.

  • Jimmy

    “People can and do get all their electricity from a solar roof. That’s a fact.”

    I am not arguing that SOME people DO get all of their electricity from a solar roof, but nationally, I would say that percentage of people would be small.

    Not everyone has the luxury of living in a house designed specifically to run solely off passive solar energy.

    [Ed- Only solar PV solar panels make electricity - passive solar energy merely conserves what warmth/coolness you have]

    So, for those who cannot get all of their energy needs from a solar roof, then they are going to have to pay a utility company to offset their energy needs. So, this would mean two payments for that person – the “payment” on their solar, and the cost to offset the remainder of their energy needs.

    “The CPUC controls charges for PG&E.”

    I promise I’m not trying to be antagonistic, but this seems like a very narrow view of the world. When we’re talking about legislation that affects the entire country, then we have to realize that the rest of the US doesn’t get their energy from PG&E, and the CPUC doesn’t regulate utilities outside of CA.

    “If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.”

    Forgive me, but I don’t understand the math here. If I’m not mistaken, the majority of a Utility Companies expenditures goes to operational expenses, not expansion.

    While the need for additional expansion WOULD decrease if enough people “did this”, it wouldn’t decrease the everyday operational expenses of running a utility company. So, those who -by necessity- were still served by the utility company, would, by necessity, see their rates increase as the operational expenses needed to run said utility were spread over fewer subscribers.

    Of course, this could eventually lead to the utility company shutting down facilities, which would lower operational expenses, but we’ll save discussion on the effects of hundreds, if not thousands of utility company employees being without a job for another post.

    “I don’t think you understand that the money comes from each individual homeowner who chooses solar, paid over 20 years.”

    No, I understand perfectly that the “hard” cost of the solar would be paid for by the individual homeowner. But it doesn’t consider the “soft” costs of going solar.

    [Ed- soft costs are also paid by homeowner]

    There are maintenance costs, of course, and also -for those who cannot derive all of their energy needs from solar- the cost of installing a dual-source system to power their home, the cost of replacing broken and damaged panels due to inclement weather, the cost of lost wages and jobs due to the proposed decreased need for grid power, and of course, the cost of a large-scale launch of such a program. The marketing, advertising, and information dispensing would be rather steep for something like this if enacted on a national scale. These are just a few of the “soft” costs that immediately come to mind, and I’m sure there are many, many more.

    There is also the question of how this would affect home sales. Will people be willing to “inherit” a tax when they purchase a home that has had a solar roof installed?

    [Ed- sure; because they won't pay electric bills. Cheaper over the years as electric bills rise]

    Especially if that home still requires grid power. What if I, as a homeowner, don’t WANT a solar roof?

    To me, to launch a program like this without answering a few more questions, and again, basing it on the response of 40 Southern California homeowners, seems rather short sighted and ill-conceived.

  • Jimmy

    “People can and do get all their electricity from a solar roof. That’s a fact.”

    I am not arguing that SOME people DO get all of their electricity from a solar roof, but nationally, I would say that percentage of people would be small.

    Not everyone has the luxury of living in a house designed specifically to run solely off passive solar energy.

    [Ed- Only solar PV solar panels make electricity - passive solar energy merely conserves what warmth/coolness you have]

    So, for those who cannot get all of their energy needs from a solar roof, then they are going to have to pay a utility company to offset their energy needs. So, this would mean two payments for that person – the “payment” on their solar, and the cost to offset the remainder of their energy needs.

    “The CPUC controls charges for PG&E.”

    I promise I’m not trying to be antagonistic, but this seems like a very narrow view of the world. When we’re talking about legislation that affects the entire country, then we have to realize that the rest of the US doesn’t get their energy from PG&E, and the CPUC doesn’t regulate utilities outside of CA.

    “If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.”

    Forgive me, but I don’t understand the math here. If I’m not mistaken, the majority of a Utility Companies expenditures goes to operational expenses, not expansion.

    While the need for additional expansion WOULD decrease if enough people “did this”, it wouldn’t decrease the everyday operational expenses of running a utility company. So, those who -by necessity- were still served by the utility company, would, by necessity, see their rates increase as the operational expenses needed to run said utility were spread over fewer subscribers.

    Of course, this could eventually lead to the utility company shutting down facilities, which would lower operational expenses, but we’ll save discussion on the effects of hundreds, if not thousands of utility company employees being without a job for another post.

    “I don’t think you understand that the money comes from each individual homeowner who chooses solar, paid over 20 years.”

    No, I understand perfectly that the “hard” cost of the solar would be paid for by the individual homeowner. But it doesn’t consider the “soft” costs of going solar.

    [Ed- soft costs are also paid by homeowner]

    There are maintenance costs, of course, and also -for those who cannot derive all of their energy needs from solar- the cost of installing a dual-source system to power their home, the cost of replacing broken and damaged panels due to inclement weather, the cost of lost wages and jobs due to the proposed decreased need for grid power, and of course, the cost of a large-scale launch of such a program. The marketing, advertising, and information dispensing would be rather steep for something like this if enacted on a national scale. These are just a few of the “soft” costs that immediately come to mind, and I’m sure there are many, many more.

    There is also the question of how this would affect home sales. Will people be willing to “inherit” a tax when they purchase a home that has had a solar roof installed?

    [Ed- sure; because they won't pay electric bills. Cheaper over the years as electric bills rise]

    Especially if that home still requires grid power. What if I, as a homeowner, don’t WANT a solar roof?

    To me, to launch a program like this without answering a few more questions, and again, basing it on the response of 40 Southern California homeowners, seems rather short sighted and ill-conceived.

  • Jimmy

    “People can and do get all their electricity from a solar roof. That’s a fact.”

    I am not arguing that SOME people DO get all of their electricity from a solar roof, but nationally, I would say that percentage of people would be small.

    Not everyone has the luxury of living in a house designed specifically to run solely off passive solar energy.

    [Ed- Only solar PV solar panels make electricity - passive solar energy merely conserves what warmth/coolness you have]

    So, for those who cannot get all of their energy needs from a solar roof, then they are going to have to pay a utility company to offset their energy needs. So, this would mean two payments for that person – the “payment” on their solar, and the cost to offset the remainder of their energy needs.

    “The CPUC controls charges for PG&E.”

    I promise I’m not trying to be antagonistic, but this seems like a very narrow view of the world. When we’re talking about legislation that affects the entire country, then we have to realize that the rest of the US doesn’t get their energy from PG&E, and the CPUC doesn’t regulate utilities outside of CA.

    “If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.”

    Forgive me, but I don’t understand the math here. If I’m not mistaken, the majority of a Utility Companies expenditures goes to operational expenses, not expansion.

    While the need for additional expansion WOULD decrease if enough people “did this”, it wouldn’t decrease the everyday operational expenses of running a utility company. So, those who -by necessity- were still served by the utility company, would, by necessity, see their rates increase as the operational expenses needed to run said utility were spread over fewer subscribers.

    Of course, this could eventually lead to the utility company shutting down facilities, which would lower operational expenses, but we’ll save discussion on the effects of hundreds, if not thousands of utility company employees being without a job for another post.

    “I don’t think you understand that the money comes from each individual homeowner who chooses solar, paid over 20 years.”

    No, I understand perfectly that the “hard” cost of the solar would be paid for by the individual homeowner. But it doesn’t consider the “soft” costs of going solar.

    [Ed- soft costs are also paid by homeowner]

    There are maintenance costs, of course, and also -for those who cannot derive all of their energy needs from solar- the cost of installing a dual-source system to power their home, the cost of replacing broken and damaged panels due to inclement weather, the cost of lost wages and jobs due to the proposed decreased need for grid power, and of course, the cost of a large-scale launch of such a program. The marketing, advertising, and information dispensing would be rather steep for something like this if enacted on a national scale. These are just a few of the “soft” costs that immediately come to mind, and I’m sure there are many, many more.

    There is also the question of how this would affect home sales. Will people be willing to “inherit” a tax when they purchase a home that has had a solar roof installed?

    [Ed- sure; because they won't pay electric bills. Cheaper over the years as electric bills rise]

    Especially if that home still requires grid power. What if I, as a homeowner, don’t WANT a solar roof?

    To me, to launch a program like this without answering a few more questions, and again, basing it on the response of 40 Southern California homeowners, seems rather short sighted and ill-conceived.

  • Jimmy

    To piggy-back on to what “Russ” said….

    Without having done much research on the bill, this certainly sounds like a propaganda-laden article, which is disappointing. More and more I’m seeing very biased and unbalanced articles like this appear on this and related blogs.

    Where are the hard numbers on the long-term financial effects of the Berkely project?

    How much did the solar offset their energy usage? How much did they have to pull from the grid, and subsequently pay in a monthly bill to PG&E in addition to their solar “payoff” bill?

    How will this effect the rates for non-solar users who rely on PG&E and similar power companies for their energy needs? Will it not cause rates to rise significantly?

    This article seems to assume that attaching PV Panels to a roof will create enough energy to run an average house, and that the entire nation lives in southern California where the sun shines nearly every day.

    Neither one of these assumptions are correct. So, it is flawed to think that this bill is a viable answer to our need for alternative forms of energy.

    It seems rather unwise to use the response of a whopping 40 home owners in California to serve as a gauge for what would work across the rest of the country.

    [ED - here's the 12 cities 2 counties and 14 states that are offering Berkeley First property tax assessment financing]

    • Andrew Thornburg

      Could not agree more…

  • Jimmy

    To piggy-back on to what “Russ” said….

    Without having done much research on the bill, this certainly sounds like a propaganda-laden article, which is disappointing. More and more I’m seeing very biased and unbalanced articles like this appear on this and related blogs.

    Where are the hard numbers on the long-term financial effects of the Berkely project?

    How much did the solar offset their energy usage? How much did they have to pull from the grid, and subsequently pay in a monthly bill to PG&E in addition to their solar “payoff” bill?

    How will this effect the rates for non-solar users who rely on PG&E and similar power companies for their energy needs? Will it not cause rates to rise significantly?

    This article seems to assume that attaching PV Panels to a roof will create enough energy to run an average house, and that the entire nation lives in southern California where the sun shines nearly every day.

    Neither one of these assumptions are correct. So, it is flawed to think that this bill is a viable answer to our need for alternative forms of energy.

    It seems rather unwise to use the response of a whopping 40 home owners in California to serve as a gauge for what would work across the rest of the country.

    [ED - here's the 12 cities 2 counties and 14 states that are offering Berkeley First property tax assessment financing]

  • Jimmy

    To piggy-back on to what “Russ” said….

    Without having done much research on the bill, this certainly sounds like a propaganda-laden article, which is disappointing. More and more I’m seeing very biased and unbalanced articles like this appear on this and related blogs.

    Where are the hard numbers on the long-term financial effects of the Berkely project?

    How much did the solar offset their energy usage? How much did they have to pull from the grid, and subsequently pay in a monthly bill to PG&E in addition to their solar “payoff” bill?

    How will this effect the rates for non-solar users who rely on PG&E and similar power companies for their energy needs? Will it not cause rates to rise significantly?

    This article seems to assume that attaching PV Panels to a roof will create enough energy to run an average house, and that the entire nation lives in southern California where the sun shines nearly every day.

    Neither one of these assumptions are correct. So, it is flawed to think that this bill is a viable answer to our need for alternative forms of energy.

    It seems rather unwise to use the response of a whopping 40 home owners in California to serve as a gauge for what would work across the rest of the country.

    [ED - here's the 12 cities 2 counties and 14 states that are offering Berkeley First property tax assessment financing]

  • Jimmy

    To piggy-back on to what “Russ” said….

    Without having done much research on the bill, this certainly sounds like a propaganda-laden article, which is disappointing. More and more I’m seeing very biased and unbalanced articles like this appear on this and related blogs.

    Where are the hard numbers on the long-term financial effects of the Berkely project?

    How much did the solar offset their energy usage? How much did they have to pull from the grid, and subsequently pay in a monthly bill to PG&E in addition to their solar “payoff” bill?

    How will this effect the rates for non-solar users who rely on PG&E and similar power companies for their energy needs? Will it not cause rates to rise significantly?

    This article seems to assume that attaching PV Panels to a roof will create enough energy to run an average house, and that the entire nation lives in southern California where the sun shines nearly every day.

    Neither one of these assumptions are correct. So, it is flawed to think that this bill is a viable answer to our need for alternative forms of energy.

    It seems rather unwise to use the response of a whopping 40 home owners in California to serve as a gauge for what would work across the rest of the country.

    [ED - here's the 12 cities 2 counties and 14 states that are offering Berkeley First property tax assessment financing]

  • Susan Kraemer

    People can and do get all their electricity from a solar roof. That’s a fact.

    The CPUC controls charges for PG&E. It wouldn’t cause PG&E to charge others more. If enough people did this it would actually lower costs for the utility because they would not have to spend to build more power.

    “Where are the hard numbers on the long-term financial effects of the Berkeley project?”

    I don’t think you understand that the money comes from each individual homeowner who chooses solar, paid over 20 years.

    The Feds just front the money to the city to front the money to the solar company so they can start on it right away. The Fed gets paid back over 20 years.

  • russ

    Shovel ready is the correct term!

  • russ

    Shovel ready is the correct term!

  • Mark

    So what happens to unincorporated areas, like Kensington, which can’t issue bonds to set up programs like this?

  • Mark

    So what happens to unincorporated areas, like Kensington, which can’t issue bonds to set up programs like this?

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