Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Terrific Way To Promote Distributed Solar Power

When an idea from liberal Berkeley is embraced by the conservative denizens of Desert Palms, California, it must be a good one.

And so it is. Today's New York Times reports on a program under which municipalities finance home installations of solar panels. (See "Harnessing The Sun, With Help From The Cities")

Here's how the program works: a homeowner applies to their municipality for financing for solar panels. The town gives the homeowner a loan, which is then paid off--with interest--via property tax payments over the next 20 years.

This is the same way that homeowners pay for things like water and sewer pipes to serve their communities.

The other day, we lamented that perpetually sunny places like Arizona and Southern California have made surprisingly little progress in getting solar energy going. This is a way to move solar forward, relatively quickly, in those places where it makes the most sense.

Desert Palms, California, is one of those places. The sun shines nearly 360 days a year. It is blistering hot during the day, but relatively cool at night, meaning there is a peak demand for air conditioning--and electricity--in the afternoon, which happens to be when solar panels are at their peak performance. Residents of this community are fairly well off, so they can afford the payments.

As the NYT points out, many of the residents there who have taken advantage of the program are politically conservative, even skeptical about global warming. But solar panels allow them to reduce, or even eliminate, their electric bills, providing the cash savings to make the payments on the solar panels.

The NYT says other municipalities are interested as well. We hope the program will spread, and that federal legislation will help encourage widespread implementation.

1 comment:

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