City of Berkeley

Solar Financing Program

Project Highlights

The City of Berkeley has been a client of NHA Advisors since 1993. Over the years, the City has financed the majority of their public facilities through the issuance of general obligation bonds, leases, special tax bonds, or redevelopment. In 2006, the City used an underground assessment district financing structure to move utilities underground and remove existing utility poles after the Oakland Hills Fire that devastated a number or residential areas between Berkeley and Oakland.

Based on this structure, the concept of the property assessed clean energy financing (“PACE”) was created. The concept of using a public financing technique to make private improvements was developed between 2007 and 2008 to address the local objective of moving more Berkeley residents and property owners towards renewable energy sources like solar. The voters of Berkeley had approved an ordinance calling for more renewable energy and the need to develop a financing program was key to advancing this cause. With the development of the PACE program, each property owner could “opt-in” to a financing district and elect to use their property tax bills as a form of repayment for solar equipment put on their house. The benefit of this structure related to the ability to pass along the payments to future homeowners as title changed hands. Historically, the liability of equipment finance was with the original owner.

Based on the pilot program developed in Berkeley, the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Los Angeles retained the services of NHA Advisors to develop PACE programs.

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