Monday, April 26, 2010

Solar IS Sexy!

Solar energy: Program would allow greater use of sun
El Paso Times Editorial Board
Posted: 04/26/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

Now here's an interesting idea. El Paso, which has been a notable also-ran when it comes to harnessing solar power, is moving to create a Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

This means that property owners -- residential and business -- would be able to borrow money for the installation of solar panels and other energy-smart equipment, and pay back the loans through theirproperty-tax bills.

The program would be voluntary, with those participating able to pay back the loans over a 20-year period with an additional charge tacked onto their property tax. It wouldn't be an interest-free loan, though the precise interest rate is yet to be determined.

Other locales across the country with similar programs charge 2 to 6 percent.

This program is in its infancy, but could start as soon as January, according to Marty Howell, overseer of the city's conservation efforts.

For being as sunny as it is during most of the year, El Paso makes little use of that abundant and "free" natural resource. We should be leading the nation when it comes to research into and use of solar energy. You'd think most every roof in the city would be capped with solar panels, but ...

The PACE program seems a good way to dip the city's toe into the solar sea. It's not going to be for everyone. Many people won't even be able to afford a low-interest loan.

But PACE would be a good way to gauge interest in solar energy and show its possibilities.

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