March 4, 2009

Berkeley's Solar Financing Program

The City of Berkeley rolled out its vaunted solar financing program last week, as the first participants received money for new solar panels. The groundbreaking program, known as FIRST, charges the homeowner a 20-year property tax assessment to fund the installation, with the cost also partially offset by PG&E rebates and tax credits from the recently passed federal stimulus package.

The San Francisco Chronicle gives the following investment example:

"On a typical $22,000 solar system, homeowners would pay about $180 a month on their property taxes. But the amount is reduced when factoring in PG&E rebates, which range from $2,000 to $15,000, plus a federal tax credit that allows homeowners to deduct 30 percent of the cost of the solar system from the overall amount of tax they owe."

There is a calculator online that estimates your projected savings/costs under Berkeley's plan - here's how our small house in El Cerrito looks.

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