Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Solar Energy Financing Bill Leaps First Hurdle

A bill that would make low- or no-interest loans available to homeowners and businesses who want to install solar energy collectors cleared a House committee today.

Under HB 1350, the state government, as well as local and county governments, would be given permission to lend money for investment in solar panels and other renewable energy technology.

According to a report in today's Denver Post, the cost of a solar system can average about $25,000. Some electric utilities offer rebates and there are tax incentives to assist with the purchase price. However, according to the Post report, such assistance defrays only about one-half of the purchase price of the system.

"Right now, even with the rebates and knowing it will save you money in the long run, many homeowners don't even consider putting solar on their house," said Rep. Alice Madden, D-Boulder, the bill sponsor. "They know they're going to have to come up with some up-front payment."

The bill would also make the loans available for improvements to a structure aimed at lowering energy use.

The measure is similar to a separate bill moving in the Senate. SB 184, sponsored by Democrat Chris Romer of Denver, would create a fund for loans to homeowners interested in doing smaller-scale energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

The committee vote to send HB 1350 to the House floor was unanimous.