Thursday, April 22, 2010

Home Energy Loans

I've never quite understood the emphasis placed on Property-Assessed Clean Energy bonds. Berkeley did a series of them, but that is Berkeley, and I was inclined to discount them as 'green consumerism'. While it is certainly a fine thing to put your money where your mouth is, I've been sceptical of their value.

But this post from the fine gentleman at Net Density made the reasoning clear.

advantage to these programs is that the assessment stays with the property, not the individual, so homeowners do not have to assume they will live in one place for 20 years to see the benefits of a renewable energy system

For most places in the United States, it doesn't make sense to add solar panels to your home--it takes too long to recoup the investment. Americans move too often. But PACE programs provide a way around that.

But are the solar panels a real selling point? I would say 'yes', if only by providing documentation on energy saved. There is a big difference between the claim that 'solar panels will save you money' and being able to document 'my total utilities run $45 a month'.


  1. Could you go into more depth with "PACE program"?

  2. It's a financing method using a tax assessment, similar to a utility district or a business improvement district. A majority of home-owners vote to adopt it, and every adds a small percent to their annual property taxes. That money is then used to pay for solar panels--either in the neighborhood, or on top of the actual houses. To be more precise, the city issues a bond to pay for the solar panels up front, and then uses the revenue from the tax income to repay the bond over a period of years.