Renewable Funding’s PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) solar funding, begun by Cisco DeVries with Berkeley First was a breakthrough in making solar affordable. Now VC high-flyers Draper Fisher Jurvetson, New Cycle Capital, and RWE Ventures have just invested $12.2 million in a first round of financing to make this sober and sensible solar funding available to more homeowners.
Renewable Funding is a business in the Common Good. And it could be big too. There’s potentially a gigaton of greenhouse gas reductions to be made, at no cost to local, state, or federal governments from a $280 billion potential market in PACE solar funding in the US, acording to a UC Berkeley study published in Environment Magazine.
Last month Joe Biden announced the intention of the Obama administration to help municipalities fund PACE solar funding as a key component of his “Recovery Through Retrofit” plan to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy for homeowners. 1 Block off the Grid helps homeowners find out if Berkeley First style PACE solar funding is available in their city. The Clinton Initiative also supports the idea.
DeVries had been a wannabe solar homeowner himself who had noticed how, despite their desires to go solar; that most people have barriers that make it impossible. Most homeowners can’t get a second on their house for a solar array – even though that could zero out their electricity bill forever. The longterm savings can be well up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime, and hundreds of tons of carbon emissions eliminated forever.
He came up with the idea that they could simply exchange their current electricity bill for the same amount or less on their property tax bill. The city could front the money to the solar company and get paid back over 20 years. Each time the house sells within the 20 years, the new owner continues to pay the bond back – and of course continues not getting a utility bill for electricity; so it is a wash.
It is a way for a homeowner to vote for climate change reductions with their feet. They would then be spending no money monthly for utility power, but gradually paying down clean renewable energy instead. Certainly Berkeley homeowners voted for it. The first round of funding sold out in nine minutes!
After the pioneering effort for Berkeley, DeVries went on to help other cities, counties and states around the country develop, administrate, and finance this very simple and sensible solar funding technique.
Online petfood; this isn’t. Congratulations to these VCs. There’s money to be made in the Common Good.
Image: Steve Jurvetson
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she 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 @dotcommodity on twitter.