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Mayor's Office
Mayor's Office


Berkeley FIRST Program Overview

(Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology)


 Solar installation

In November 2007, Berkeley became the first city in the nation to allow property owners to pay for energy efficiency improvements and solar system installation as a voluntary long-term assessment on their individual property tax bill.



The following links offer important information pertaining to the application process, FAQ's and historical information on the formation of the program. 



Berkeley FIRST in the News:

Bright future as Berkeley starts solar program
January 20, 2009
Two Berkeley homeowners received checks for their new solar panels on Friday, becoming the first to flip the switch on the city's much-ballyhooed, closely watched solar financing program.

American Public Media's Marketplace Features Berkeley's Solar Financing Program
January 19, 2009
"Financing green projects can be expensive, so cities are rethinking the economic model to fund renewable energy. A pilot project in Berkeley, Calif., will use city bonds to pay for the costs of installing solar panels, with money being recouped later through a surcharge on property taxes." Sam Eaton reports.

New York Times: Cities Use Creative, Targeted Lending to Speed Energy Projects
January 6, 2009
“The local government has a critical role to play in climate leadership,” said Mr. Roth, “galvanizing stakeholders, bringing focus to zones, and leveraging public financing.”

Spots for Berkeley's solar program snapped up in 9 minutes
November 21, 2008
Spots in a new Berkeley program that allows homeowners to install solar systems without any money upfront went faster than tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert.  If ever there was an indicator in this green city that people are looking for environmentally friendly alternatives for electricity and heating water, it happened the morning after the presidential election.

New York Times: Berkeley Approves City-Backed Loans for Solar Panels 
September 16, 2008
"The Berkeley City Council late Tuesday unanimously approved a program to give city-backed loans to property owners who install rooftop solar-power systems. The loans, likely to total up to $22,000 apiece, would be paid off over 20 years as part of the owners’ property-tax bills."

KGO News Video: Berkeley Encourages Residents to Go Solar 
September 16, 2008
A unanimous vote in Berkeley on Tuesday night lights the way for that city to be the first in the nation to make solar panels affordable. The mayor says San Francisco, San Jose, even cities as far away as Annapolis, Maryland are interested in following Berkeley's lead.

The Guardian (UK): Berkeley, California approves city-backed solar loans
September 18, 2008
The California city of Berkeley has approved a new financing scheme for loans to homeowners who install rooftop solar panels, a landmark programme that could inspire other US cities to follow suit. Berkeley to help fund residents' solar energy projects
September 18, 2008
While global financial markets were flipping out and Gov. Palin's e-mail was getting hacked, something a little greener was going down at the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday night.

The Associated Press: Berkeley moves ahead with solar-financing program
September 18, 2008
The city of Berkeley has made a big step toward starting a pioneering program to provide city-backed loans to homeowners...

The Oakland Tribune: Berkeley approves program to loan money to residents for solar systems
September 18, 2008

earth2tech: Berkeley OK's City Backed Solar Loans
September 18, 2008

Press Release: Berkeley Takes Another Step Toward Solar
April 1, 2008
“Going solar is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy and reverse climate change”, said Mayor Tom Bates. “The solar installation fee waiver reduces one more barrier for Berkeley residents to Go Solar.”

Oakland Tribune: Solar Installation Plan Gets Official Go-Ahead
November 9, 2007
"This program has the potential to once again be a leader in the nation," said Stephen Compagni Portis, director of special projects at the University of California, Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, which does analysis and research in renewable energy. "It’s a model that is simple and yet really powerful in terms of allowing cities across the country to build a base of solar power."

SF Chronicle: Berkeley Going Solar - City Pays Up Front, Recoups Over 20 Years 
October 26, 2007
Berkeley is set to become the first city in the nation to help thousands of its residents generate solar power without having to put money up front - attempting to surmount one of the biggest hurdles for people who don’t have enough cash to go green.



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