Berkeley approves City Loans for Solar
PV, Boulder Set to Vote on Similar Plan
Michigan Passes Renewable
energy Portfolio Standard
In Berkeley, Calif., the city council in September voted to provide
financing for homeowners installing grid-tied photovoltaic panels.
The first in the nation to do it, Berkeley will front the cost of PV installation, issuing bonds to finance the program. The bonds
will be paid off over 20 years through a surcharge on the
homeowner’s property tax. The tax increase might average $180 per month — less than the average household
electrical bill in Berkeley. The surcharge will transfer
with the property to new owners. Thus homeowners
don’t have to worry about buying a system that will
chiefly benefit the next owner of the property.
The next step: The city needs to find a lender with
$1.5 million to pay for the first 50 installations.
In Boulder, Colo., voters are asked to approve
on Nov. 4 a nearly identical plan. Boulder County
Ballot Issue 1A creates a Clean Energy Options
Local Improvement District, authorized to issue
up to $40 million in bonds to pay for solar installations. Participating homeowners would pay off the 20-year bonds
through a property tax increase.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates has repeatedly told reporters that he’s
received inquiries from cities around the country that are interested
in duplicating the program.
The Michigan legislature in September passed an energy bill
requiring utility companies to produce 10 percent of their power
from renewable sources by 2015. The bill also requires implementation of net-metering and mandates that 5. 5 percent of new “capacity” come through efficiency
In return, the state’s two largest utility companies, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy
(originally Detroit Edison), will have a protected
duopoly guaranteeing that they share 90 percent of Michigan’s electricity market, which they
claimed to need in order to protect future investment in alternative energy sources. Residential
customers will pay a flat monthly fee of $3 to
support that investment. Michigan has generous wind resources along the shores of the Great
In signing the bill, Gov. Jennifer Granholm
noted that it will save Michigan ratepayers $1.04 billion in electric
costs by 2025.
Michigan is the 29th state to pass a renewable portfolio standard. Four additional states have implemented voluntary renewable
The RPS will