It’s no secret that the solar industry is dependent on government support, for now. But as the industry lobbies for an extension of federal tax credits in the United States, different cities and states are trying out widely varying ideas to support renewable energy.
Until the federal government adopts new national policies, you can expect to see more experimentation among local and regional governments.
Berkeley, Calif., is hammering out the details of a loan program to pay the upfront cost of solar installations for businesses and residents, who would repay the loans as part of their property taxes. The city approved the program in November. Other cities, as well as the state of California, are considering similar measures to help finance solar projects (see Power-Purchase Agreements to Spike).
San Francisco and several cities in Massachusetts and Ohio are working on programs to finance residents’ projects using bond money, recouping the costs as part of the residents’ electric bills, according to Local Power CEO Paul Fenn (see Berkeley to Finance Solar Installations). San Francisco also is considering a carbon tax, among many other initiatives (see Gavin Newsom: ‘We’re Still Playing in the Margins’).
Still other cities, such as St. George, Utah, hope to build collective solar projects and allow residents to buy shares of the projects, use the energy and receive the tax credits as if the installations were on their own roofs, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.