Financing a Solar Project

1600px-Solar_panels_on_a_roof.jpgAre you looking for ways to save money and reduce your carbon footprint?  Are you ready to take on a project that will have a big impact?  Then solar power may be just what you’re looking for! The steep cost of solar power can be daunting, but as the market for renewable energy grows, more affordable financing options are becoming available.   The following will give you an idea of what financing options are available for solar energy projects.


Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing


PACE financing is a mechanism to pay for small or large-scale energy efficiency (or water efficiency) projects, including solar installations.   PACE allows property owners (both residential and commercial) to pay for energy efficiency projects over time, through a line-item on the property tax bill.   Repayment terms can be up to 25 years, and the assessment stays with the property.  If the owner sells the property, the payments can transfer to the new owner.  The number of PACE financing programs is growing, making prices more competitive.   PACE programs currently offered in  in Contra Costa County include CaliforniaFIRST, HERO, YgreneFigtree, and AllianceNRG.  Program offerings are likely to expand as the market for PACE programs grows.  Check out your city’s website to find out which programs are authorized in your community.  Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) has a useful page which further explains PACE financing, which you can find here.  You can also check out ABAG's program comparison chart, here.


Federal Tax Credit


Property owners can take advantage of federal tax credits for qualifying solar energy system purchase and installations on existing homes or new construction.  Solar energy systems such as solar water heaters and solar panels must be certified to qualify for tax credits.   The one-time federal tax credit is up to 30% of the total system cost.


Community Solar


Community Solar is a financing option that will be one to watch for as opportunities arise in California.  Community Solar goes beyond individual projects, as it allows interested utility customers (including renters) to buy into locally produced solar energy.   Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) recently received approval from state regulators to offer a clean energy program to customers.  Once customers are able to start enrolling in the program, they will be able to buy into a pool of clean, locally produced solar energy. 


Rebates and Incentives


There are rebates available to both single-family and multi-family homes in Contra Costa County to complete energy efficiency upgrades, including solar installations.  Through Energy Upgrade California, residents may be eligible for up to $6,500 in incentives.

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