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February 27, 2009

First Two Berkeley Homes Go Solar with Berkeley’s Innovative Financing Program

Mayor Tom Bates hand delivers the first check and recognizes property owners that financed their solar systems through the Berkeley FIRST program.

Homeowner Jeanne Pimentel shows off her new solar panels to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. (Picture courtesy of The San Francisco Chronicle)

Berkeley, California - Mayor Tom Bates joined city officials, private sector partners and two homeowners to celebrate the financing of the first two solar systems through Berkeley FIRST.

Ms. Jeanne Pimentel of Allston Way and Mr. Aaron Mann of Grizzly Peak were on hand as the first two Berkeley homeowners participating in the program to complete their solar installations. Mayor Bates hand delivered the first check to Aaron Mann who had his system installed by Sungevity. Jeanne Pimentel’s system was installed by Borrego Solar and will receive her check shortly. Both Sungevity and Borrego Solar are Berkeley-based businesses.

Through Berkeley FIRST, participating property owners can pay for the cost of a new solar system through a line item on their property tax bill over 20 years. The program, which launched in November of last year, has received international attention and is being replicated in cities and states across the country. Slots for the first $1.5 million round of Berkeley FIRST funding “sold out” nine minutes after the application period opened. The first cohort of Berkeley FIRST applicants has until September 2009 to install their solar systems. 

“This is an exciting moment. These first two homeowners are helping our nation blaze a new path toward clean energy,” said Mayor Tom Bates. “Berkeley FIRST solar financing program has generated international attention and is being replicated in a dozen states across the country.”

"The entire process has been flawless, from quote and installation through the rebate and funding process,” said Aaron Mann. “Everyone I dealt with was terrific and made the process painless. We are thrilled to be generating power, saving money, and in our own small way making the world just a little bit greener!"

"This is great! Our customers now have the option to have their solar system financed through the City of Berkeley, and then pay it back as an additional assessment on their property tax bill. This ground-breaking financing option for Berkeley homeowners makes the cost of going solar even more affordable.  Pair this program with federal and state solar incentives, and going solar is an increasingly attractive investment," said Danny Kennedy, founder of Sungevity.

Renewable Funding, the Oakland-based financial services firm is financing and administering the Berkeley FIRST program and providing all funds for the solar installations. No city funds are used or put at risk. Renewable Funding, Sungevity, and Borrego Solar will be on hand for the ceremony.


Related media:

Bright future as Berkeley starts solar program (San Francisco Chronicle, February 28, 2009)

Berkeley solar program starts to kick in (ABC7.com, February 27, 2009)

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