3. Develop and publicize local financing options
The Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) allows local and state governments to loan money to home and business owners for energy improvements, which they repay over time through property taxes. Cities can also partner with local financial institutions to offer competitive loans for solar projects. The “Milwaukee Shines” program, for example, partnered with Summit Credit Union to offer low-interest loans of up to $20,000 for eligible solar PV installations. Partnering with local solar installers to allow customers to lease panels over time can also help reduce up-front costs.
4. “Solarize” your city
Bulk purchasing programs allow businesses, homeowners and nonprofits to purchase solar energy collectively, thus lowering the cost for everyone involved. Portland, Oregon, was the first to offer a “Solarize” bulk purchasing program, and many other cities have followed suit. In less than five months, “Solarize Athens” more than tripled the residential solar energy capacity in the Athens, Georgia, metropolitan area.
5. Encourage community solar projects
Community solar programs allow customers to support and benefit from solar power projects in their communities. Customers can either own a share of a community solar project, or they can subscribe through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Cities can work with their utilities to offer both alternatives. For example, through the Tallahassee Solar program, city residents and businesses signed up to purchase electricity from a community solar farm at a fixed rate.