The latest from Berkeley, California: rooftop solar panels on an installment plan.
An Oakland company called Renewable Funding sells bonds to cover the installation, then gives cash to the homeowner, who then pays the cost back via their property taxes over 20 years.
I see a problem here. Technology does not remain static. Especially not renewable energy technology, with all the billions of dollars being thrown at it.
Long before these bonds are paid off, there will be some new whiz-bang carbon-free residential energy technology that produces energy more cheaply and efficiently, and rooftop solar panels will become the equivalent of a black rotary-dial telephone.
How enthusiastic are the property owners going to be about paying the mortgage on their solar panels when solar panels are no longer cutting edge? Who will be left to pick up the pieces when the residents stop paying and Renewable Funding defaults on the bonds?
And let's talk about redistribution of income. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the woman in the picture received a $3,000 from Pacific Gas and Electric and a $6,600 tax credit for the installation of her $20,000 system. Not a bad chunk of change, but is a $9,600 wealth transfer to a well-off Berkeley liberal the best use of scarce resources in hard times?