US towns not waiting for cap and trade to subsidise renewables

Cities and states are introducing unilateral renewable initiatives and targets. As President Obama’s cap and trade bill faces an uphill struggle in the US Senate, individual cities are taking the initiative to incentivise clean energy development.

From this week businesses and homeowners in San Francisco will be able to tap a new $150m loan fund for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Property owners who have paid taxes on time for the past three years will be eligible for loans of up to $50,000 under the The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program and can pay back loans over a period of 20 years.

The San Francisco’s mayor’s office has estimated that 45 per cent of the city’s emissions are related to energy used in local buildings.

And in Austin, Texas, the council has introduced a city-specific feed-in tariff for solar energy.

Over the next five years the scheme will pay an average of 8 cents for every kilowatt hour of solar energy produced.

The new approach saves $2.4m over the life of the programme compared to the old way of doing things – offering an up-front rebate on the installation of solar systems.

Karl R Rábago, vice president for distributed energy services for utility Austin Energy said: “When you combine federal tax credits available for solar installations along with the incentive this programme provides, energy savings for most businesses and apartment communities will pay for their system in six to eight years.”

Twenty nine US states now have renewables targets despite the lack of a national target.

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