New York Passes Solar Financing Law, 192-0

Solar Roof, photo by Marlith

Solar Roof, photo by Marlith

Why don’t more people “go solar?”

The number one reason is the relatively high up-front cost of buying a solar rooftop system.

Solar installation companies have devised several types of programs to take some of “the bite” out of the initial expense. There’s leasing, under which the homeowner pays only a small amount (or nothing at all) out-of-pocket, and the panels belong to the installation company.

1 Block Off the Grid (Phoenix)

1 Block Off the Grid (Phoenix)

Then there’s 1BOG’s business model (which we’ve written about before) under which a critical mass of homeowners in a city sign up, and 1BOG makes a deal with a single local installer that results in a lower cost due to volume.

A few cities have gotten into the act by treating solar power just like any other type of utility. For homeowners who want to participate, panels are installed and hooked up to the grid, at no up-front cost. The purchase price is paid back over several years through a small increase in the homeowner’s property tax.

And if the owner sells the house before the system has been paid for? No problem. The solar array belongs to the new buyer, who continues to pay down the system through the property taxes.

The PACE program

Late Monday night, New York legislators meeting in a special session approved a measure authorizing municipalities to fund solar power installations (and energy efficiency programs) for homeowners to be paid for over an extended period. The program removes that initial stumbling block and allows solar power to grow rapidly. The vote was a blow-out: 192-0.

Official support for the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program was led by NY Governor David Paterson and Representative Steve Israel.

Helping to organize grassroot support was the non-profit organization, Vote Solar.

Here’s what the group had to say about Monday’s success:

NYC Solar

NYC Solar

“PACE programs effectively remove the single greatest barrier to solar adoption – upfront cost. That makes PACE an incredibly powerful tool for driving new economic opportunity, supporting green job growth and making real progress in the fight against climate change,” said Shaun Chapman, East Coast Campaigns Director for Vote Solar.

“Thanks to leadership from Governor Paterson and the State Legislature, New York can now take advantage of this innovative approach to clean energy finance. Congressman Israel also deserves special recognition for his particular commitment to advancing this bill and New York’s renewable energy future. I look forward to seeing local governments throughout the state implement PACE and pass its many benefits on to New Yorkers.”

“Through my ‘45 by 15′ clean energy initiative, New York has significantly expanded energy efficiency and renewable energy incentive programs that are helping residents and businesses reduce their energy costs,” Governor David A. Paterson said.

NY Governor, David Patterson

NY Governor, David Patterson

“Now, thanks to the leadership of President Obama and Congressman Israel, the federal government is offering programs that encourage the use of PACE loan programs. But to strengthen New York’s ability to tap this federal funding, we needed to pass this legislation, which will authorize municipalities to administer PACE loan programs. I want to thank the Legislature for recognizing this opportunity and for agreeing to pass this critical legislation in the extraordinary session.”

“Both the New York Senate and Assembly voted unanimously in favor of amending state law to authorize municipalities to establish PACE programs. Recognizing the model’s job creation and economic benefits, the federal government has also recently announced that $454 Million in Recovery Act funds will be made available to support PACE programming.

“The deadline for municipalities to apply for federal PACE funds is December 14, 2009. For more information, click here.”

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