AB 811 gives cities and counties authority to create benefit assessment districts in which property owners can decide to “finance” energy upgrades.

The intent of the Legislature is that AB 811 should be used to finance the installation of distributed generation renewable energy sources or energy efficiency improvements that are permanently fixed to residential, commercial, industrial, or other real property.

AB 811 authorizes a property owner, upon written consent of an authorized city official, to purchase directly the related equipment and materials for the installation of distributed generation renewable energy sources or energy efficiency improvements and to contract directly for the installation of those sources or improvements.

Funding options include using the general fund, issuing municipal bonds, partnering with a utility to get financing or setting up private financing.

Palm Desert and Berkeley led the legislative charge to put AB 811 in place, and have now enabled hundreds of properties to be outfitted with energy efficiency and renewable energy systems including solar. The “Berkeley First” program was launched Nov. 07. Their pilot program is fully subscribed at $1.5 million.  The Palm Desert Energy Independence program is now in its third round of financing, having installed $7.5 million in energy efficiency and solar photovoltaic systems in their town.

The Sonoma County Energy Independence program has completed a feasibility study and is planning on offering a $40 million program, which will also include water conservation systems.

San Diego is working on a “Solar Roof Program.” The pilot project will focus on 150 to 300 homes, and 1 technology – solar photovoltaic. Success for the pilot is deemed to be completing the financing cycle, collecting 150-200 loan packages, and aggregating those smaller loans into larger packages that can be sold off on the municipal bond market. Encinitas, Napa and Redlands are all in the exploration phase of AB 811 programs. Cities like Anaheim and Santa Monica have solar supportive programs already in place.  Santa Monica promotes solar adoption through its Solar Santa Monica program.  Solar installation firms bid for program, and guarantee “group” pricing. HelioPower is a installer for this program. All across California residents and property owners are working with their elected officials to find new and innovative ways to increase the use of sun to power our electricity needs.

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