It’s commonly acknowledged that one of the main obstacles to residential solar installations is having the upfront money available to move forward with an installation. Even with the promise of lucrative tax credits, and knowing that the system will save a great amount of money over its lifetime, many homeowners simply don’t have the extra financial resources (ie, cash!) sitting around. Creative finance programs are needed if the solar industry is going to be able to make its full impact through job creation, energy savings, and carbon dioxide reduction.
Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, is one proposed program that could open up residential solar. Essentially, PACE would enable municipalities to finance energy efficiency and solar energy upgrades that would be paid off through the homeowner’s property taxes, with the savings from reduced energy bills. This promising initiative was supported by a range of stakeholders and many municipalities, including Asheville City, were seriously looking at implementing PACE in their communities. However, in July 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and large mortgage interests froze the program.
However, there is a chance for PACE’s revival, as a court order has forced FHFA to provide public notice and allow the public a comment period. According to Alisa Valerrama with the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Over the next 60 days (until March 26th, 2012), a broad bipartisan coalition of business leaders, environmentalists, property owners and federal, state, and local policymakers will finally have a chance to make their voices heard and explain to federal regulators why PACE makes economic and environmental sense.”
This is a significant opportunity to voice support for solar energy, but also to the democratic decision making process and its interface with large corporations. Go to PACENow for more information, and see the FHFA’s Federal Register posting for information on how to submit comments. Please make your voice heard to support an energy shift in our nation!