Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Program Aims to Make Home Energy Efficiency Retrofits & Solar Installations Affordable

One of the big barriers -- THE big barrier -- to going solar and retrofitting homes to be more energy efficient is upfront cost.  Sure the improvements pay for themselves over time, but in these challenging times, many people just can't afford the initial investment.

Living on Earth reports how the city of Berkeley pioneered an innovative financing program that covers the up-front costs of these types of improvements for homeowners, and allows them to pay the city back via a surcharge on their property tax bill over 20 years.  This enables them to get past the barrier of that big up-front cost, and start reaping the economic benefits of clean energy and energy efficiency.  If the home changes owners, the property tax surcharge transfers to the new owner, just like the power bill does.

Here's a snippet of the interview between host, Steve Curwood, and Renewable Funding President, Cisco DeVries:

CURWOOD: So, Cisco, what gets you excited about this?

DEVRIES: We've known for decades that you can save money, that most property owners can save money on energy efficiency in their homes, but we haven't been able to unlock that door. And here today we have this confluence of events: we have the priority around climate change; we have the fact that families are looking for way to save money, especially in this difficult economic time; and we're trying to put people back to work. And that's led to a real focus on solving this energy efficiency financing issue. The thing that really gets me excited is we have the opportunity with this program and some of the leadership in other programs we see coming down the pipe, to help transform the built environment, to really transform the way that people use energy, that they think of energy, and to reduce the amount of energy and greenhouse gas emissions coming from our homes and businesses.

CURWOOD: How big could this be, Cisco?

DEVRIES: The University of California Berkeley did a study looking at these programs and they said, boy, if this really starts to catch on nationwide, it could be a $280 billion financing program in not too long. And then we would be talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the tune of 1.1 or more gigatons.

CURWOOD: And, at net not cost really to anybody?

DEVRIES: Property owners really want to do the right thing, but they also need to save money. This is not a time to be putting a lot of extra money out the door if you can avoid it. And I think what we've got here is an opportunity for people to make the retrofits to reduce their energy costs and to put some extra money in their pocket books at the end of the month. And that certainly is a win-win.

This is the type of smart policy solution that we here at CVI love.

Listen to the full LOE segment>>

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