Tuesday, December 4, 2007

If you buy it for me, I'll pay you back...

We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Berkeley has always been beating to a different bongo drummer.

It's only fitting that the University responsible for the Manhattan project also function as the original command post for the Free Speech Movement - trading bomb for calm. You can see it everywhere. In People's Park, on the infamous Bloody Thursday of 1969, James Rector died at the hands of a police shotgun. Now, the former site of the anti-war protest is a nerve center for a satellite Food Not Bombs program - a fitting end to its tragic beginning.

The school has always been at the forefront of the progressive movement. And while there are still some programs that might seems a little sketchy, possibly calling in to question their current "independence of direction" --$500 Million donation from BP to develop biofuels, $10 Million donation from DOW for sustainability-- the city/University area of Berkeley is, yet again, still way ahead of the curve.

And I'm jealous...

Berkeley's City Council has a wonderful plan for the city to finance solar panels for its residents. Basically, the homeowners pay for their panels through a 20-year additional assessment on their homes, with said assessment GUARANTEED not to exceed what their electricity would cost from the power company.

Guaranteed cheaper. Definitively cleaner. Undoubtedly accessible. Brilliant.

But will solar be embraced?

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Berkeley going solar - city pays up front, recoups over 20 years
Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, October 26, 2007

Berkeley is set to become the first city in the nation to help thousands of its residents generate solar power without having to put money up front - attempting to surmount one of the biggest hurdles for people who don't have enough cash to go green.

The City Council will vote Nov. 6 on a plan for the city to finance the cost of solar panels for property owners who agree to pay it back with a 20-year assessment on their property. Over two decades, the taxes would be the same or less than what property owners would save on their electric bills, officials say.

"This plan could be our most important contribution to fighting global warming," Mayor Tom Bates said Thursday. "We've already seen interest from all over the U.S. People really think this plan can go."

The idea is sparking interest from city and state leaders who are mindful of California's goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Officials in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and several state agencies have contacted Berkeley about the details of its plan.

"If this works, we'd want to look at this for other cities statewide," said Ken Alex, California deputy attorney general. "We think it's a very creative way to eliminate the barriers to getting solar panels, and it's fantastic that Berkeley's going ahead with this."

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Is it any wonder that they think they're the next Silicone Valley?