Friday, May 8, 2009

Berserkely Offers To Finance Green Retrofits

From that bastion of commie/pinko/hippie-dom, Berkeley, CA, comes news, via Grist's Todd Woody, of a civic initiative that anybody and everybody can get behind: the City will finance the purchase cost and installation of any home-owner who will install green/solar technology for energy conservation:
Berkeley is Fox News’ nightmare. The city’s political spectrum runs from center left to left of Lenin. Malcolm X not only has an elementary school named after him but his birthday is a public holiday. The best pizza in town comes from a workers’ collective (veggie only) located across the street from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse—she who would smash the agricultural-industrial state. And did I mention Breast Freedom Day at People’s Park?
Hippie-Central! People's Park! Solar Collectives! Yay, Berkeley!!@!
But this hotbed of East Bay Bolshevism has also become a wellspring of municipal eco-capitalism that’s serving as a model for less leftist locales. As you may have heard, Berkeley will finance a solar array for any home or business that wants one, tacking on a surcharge to the owner’s property tax bill for 20 years to recoup the cost. If you sell your house, the assessment rolls over to the new owner.

In one fell swoop, the city removed the chief roadblock to going solar—steep upfront costs that can run $20,000 or more for a rooftop system. When the Berkeley FIRST (Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology) website went live it took all of nine minutes for the 40 slots in the pilot program to be sold out.

But the story behind that story is how this experiment in state-sponsored solar spurred the founding of an innovative green financial startup. A startup that in turn has developed a business model to nationalize the Berkeley blueprint with the aim of creating a multi billion-dollar market for “green municipal bonds” to finance the decarbonization of the country.
Add to this initiative the 'green labor' movement of the likes of Van Jones "Green For All" activism, across the Bay in Oakland, and it might begin to look like the leading edge of the American energy renaissance is bubbling up in the cities by the Bay.
Green For All's founder Van Jones was just named one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world!

Congratulations Van! We're so proud of this remarkable accomplishment.

Beyond the recognition of Van's visionary leadership, this is a major achievement for all who are working to build a green economy for all. Because of our collective efforts, "Green Jobs Now" has gone from a movement's rallying cry to a key part of President Obama's agenda.
Read the rest, and check out Van Jones, too.

This could well go with my buddy Phila/Buophonia's weekly "Good News" post. And stuff like this could make a difference. It would have been GREAT if it had been begun 25 years ago, of course. And it's probably too late. But you gotta LOVE Berkeley...

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