Palm Desert, CA — City officials from Palm Desert are set to make solar energy funding affordable.
Residents would be able to borrow money from the city to pay for green projects like solar panels or energy-efficient air conditions.
If adopted, they’ll be one of the first cities in Southern California to do so.
Last month Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing cities to make loans for residential and commercial solar projects.
And Palm Desert is in line to become one of the first.
“As of now we have 270 people signed up on a list before we’ve even adopted the program in Palm Desert that wanna be the first 275 to get their loans,” says city councilman Jim Ferguson.
Under the plan, residents would borrow money from the city to pay for their solar projects.
Then pay it back through their property taxes.
The fixed interest rate would be between 6% and 7%.
Residential solar systems cost around $20,000 and 50,000 depending on how many panels are installed.
Commercial buildings cost even more.
A slow economy has banks hesitant to offer special loans on solar projects.
Currently many take out a second mortgage to pay for the projects.
Don McFall owns Solar Energy Center in Palm Springs.
He’s working with Wells Fargo to come come up with another loan plan.
But, he can see benefits of city financing.
“You’re loan remains level,” says McFall. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
Solar panels and energy-efficient air conditioners would save desert residents thousands.
In addition, green improvements would boost the value of the home.
“For every dollar you save annually on your electric bill, you add $20 worth of value to your house,” says McFall. “so if you’re saving $5000 a year on your electric bill, that’s $100,000 adder to your house.”
Palm Springs and Cathedral City have joined Beverly Hills and 7 other cities that want to copy Palm Desert’s plan.
“To me it’s just a testament of how enormously popular it is,” says Ferguson. “It truly is energy independence in the purest sense of the word.”
The Palm Desert city council will decide on their plan, called the Energy Independence Program, tomorrow.
They hope it will help the city reach it’s goal to reduce energy use by 30% by 2013.