Bill to Help Californians Pay for Home Solar Systems and Energy Efficiency Initiatives Passes Senate

4/28/2009

California Political Desk

Sacramento, CA – A bill by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) allowing cities and counties to help property owners pay for solar energy systems and energy efficiency improvements passed the Senate today. The vote on SB 279 was 26-13.

"My bill will remove the primary financial hurdle that deters most homeowners from installing solar panels or making energy efficiency improvements – the upfront costs," said Senator Hancock. "Through this measure, cities and counties can assist homeowners by making solar energy and energy efficiency improvements much more affordable."

"SB 279 will dramatically increase the ability of individual homeowners and property owners to join the green building movement and use alternative energy to ´green´ their homes," according to Senator Hancock.

The bill gives cities and counties the ability to establish a local financing authority. This new authority would then help property owners pay for energy efficiency improvements and solar installations through a long-term assessment on the individual property tax bill.

Senator Hancock said that she introduced the bill because the upfront investment cost is often a deterrent to property owners who want to install solar systems or make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. This legislation will authorize all cities and counties to provide the initial funding from a bond fund that will be repaid through an assessment on the tax bills of the participating property owners.

The program is voluntary and paid for only by those property owners who choose to make the improvements to their property. The payments will be spread out over 20 years. If the property is sold, the assessment will be transferred to the next owner.

The measure is modeled on a successful program in the City of Berkeley. It will permit all cities and counties in California to adopt a similar program. The measure allows non-charter cities as well as charter cities and counties to issue solar installation and energy efficiency improvement bonds.

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