Office of Energy and Sustainable Development
Office of Energy and Sustainable Development

Berkeley FIRST

In 2008, the City of Berkeley launched the Berkeley Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology (FIRST), a program to promote solar photovoltaic (PV) installations using a pioneering financing mechanism. The now concluded pilot program served as a model for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs across the country.

PACE Financing: PACE offers accessible financing to make important building improvements that can lower energy bills. The advantages of the PACE financing: 

  • There is relatively little up-front cost to the property owner
  • The cost for the solar system is paid for through a special tax on the property, and is spread over 20 years
  • The financing costs were comparable to a traditional equity line or mortgage
  • Since the solar system stays with the property, so does the tax obligation-if the property is transferred or sold, the new owners will pay the remaining tax obligation

PACE Financing Programs: The Berkeley FIRST pilot program has concluded but there are other PACE financing options that are now available. To learn more see: PACE financing.

  • CaliforniaFIRST:The CaliforniaFIRST program is available now to Berkeley property owners. 
  • HERO: The HERO program is expected to start offering financing in Berkeley in Spring of 2015.

Berkeley FIRST Documents

Legislation to establish Berkeley FIRST: 

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