3 revelations about solar financing

First off, I want to credit Joe Boyce, a consultant with Gaia Worldwide focused on the solar technology energy industry, for reminding me that it has been some time since I looked at the whole financing end of the solar industry equation. Almost exactly a year, in fact, since I looked extensively at solar financing as a trend, although I have been reporting regularly on the progress of One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), the organization driving solar buying campaigns around the country.

First off, I want to credit Joe Boyce, a consultant with Gaia Worldwide focused on the solar technology energy industry, for reminding me that it has been some time since I looked at the whole financing end of the solar industry equation. Almost exactly a year, in fact, since I looked extensively at solar financing as a trend, although I have been reporting regularly on the progress of One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), the organization driving solar buying campaigns around the country.

The same afternoon that Boyce and I chatted, all the fervor around the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program started hitting the media, so that has prompted me to work up this brief update. So, here are my three takeaway from the current state of financing around clean energy, especially solar.

Takeaway #1: The government is still its own worst energy when it comes to inspiring renewable energy investments at the consumer level.

The perfect expression of this is the lawsuits that have just been filed in California around PACE program, an effort that was SUPPOSED to help property owners finance renewable energy technology by adding the costs as an over-time addition to their property assessments. The problem, according to the lawsuit, is that the giant federal mortgage agencies -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- have been apparently standing in the way of the program. Fallout from the mortgage mess of the past several years.

Takeaway #2: Almost three quarters of women have at least equal responsibility for paying their electric bills, so it is time to step up education to this very important consumer segment.

That stat comes from a survey that was commissioned by the Women Impacting Public Policy Organization along with the Women's Council on Energy and the Environment. The responses are from 801 women, age 18 years or older.

1BOG was shocked to find, then, that only 20 percent of the members it has been building around the country are women. The organization has active campaigns in 18 major metropolitan markets across the United States. The latest one was launched this week in Philadelphia, along with Mercury Solar Systems.

To address the gender knowledge gap about renewable energy, 1BOG is actually hosting a seminar about solar financing options on Thursday, July 29, from 7 to 8 p.m. pacific.

Takeaway #3: Get ready to hear more about feed-in tariffs. The concept of feed-in tariffs, where renewable energy is fed back into the grid at an above-retail rate, has fallen flat on its face in the United States before -- back in the 1970s. But after recent success with this financing method in Germany, interest has been revived stateside. As you might imagine, California is one of the states pushing for more research around this concept because it is one of the most progressive states when it comes to renewable energy adoption.

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