Updated: Friday, 16 Oct 2009, 5:58 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 16 Oct 2009, 5:58 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced Friday a new program that could make solar power more accessable to Austin homeowners.
The proposal comes from a new Texas state law that allows homeowners to finance solar installations and other energy efficiency investments through municipal loans.
The loans would be repaid through residents' property tax bill as a voluntary line item.
The proposal will be heard by city council on Thursday, October 22.
In a statement, Mayor Leffingwell described the benefits. “First, homeowners would potentially be able to install solar panels and make energy efficiency upgrades with no upfront investment at all. Second, the interest rate on funds borrowed from the city would likely be lower than what would be available from a bank, making the repayments more affordable. Third, with the benefit of on-site solar energy and improved efficiency, the reduction in monthly home energy bills could in some cases be greater than the loan repayments, resulting in an immediate net cash positive for some homeowners.”
House Bill 1937, passed earlier this year in the State Legislature, permits cities to create energy districts to loan homeowners money for renewable power that would be repaid through property taxes.
This proposal comes after Austin Energy's solar rebate program ran out of money due to its success.
The program's $5 million for 2009 is already gone and only $750,000 is left for 2010.
Solar installation is a big business in Austin. Five years ago there were four solar installers in Austin, there is now 22.