Friday, December 05, 2008

San Diego's Bright Idea

The City of San Diego is rolling out a plan-- pending City Council approval-- that will allow homeownders to finance the cost of solar installations and roll the payments into their property tax bills.

The City is looking to partner with a private lender to finance the individual deals, but on average, the cost to the consumer of doing so is estimated to be about $150 a month. The only regulatory requirement appears to be that the homeowner has to agree to be part of a special assessment district in order to roll the debt service on the private loan into their property tax billl.

The plan also anticipates the very real possibility that many homeowners will sell their houses, potentially leaving them stuck for paying for solar panels they no longer own. Under the proposed plan, the loan can be assigned to the new homeowner, rather than forcing the seller to pay off the balance out of the sale proceeds or continue paying down the loan long after the sale.

On the whole, it sounds pretty reasonable. Homeowners get instant cash flow from lower utility bills and a predictable debt repayment schedule that makes their property tax bills only incrementally larger.

Solar plan for San Diego [San Diego Union Tribune]