City of Berkeley - Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology (FIRST)

February 25, 2010


Berkeley's Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology (FIRST) allows property owners to borrow money from the city's Sustainable Energy Financing District to install photovoltaic (PV) systems and repay the cost over 20 years through an annual special tax on property tax bills. The program is being administered by Renewable Funding LLC. On-line applications were accepted between 9:00 a.m. on November 5, 2008, and 9:00 a.m. on November 19, 2008. The first application period was for the pilot program and Berkeley expects the program to initially fund 40 installations. Applications that were not accepted during the pilot phase will be put on the waiting list for the next round of applications.

The FIRST Program will provide financing up to $37,500 per installation for either residential or commercial properties. Payments will be made through a special tax on the participant's property tax bill. If the owner moves out of their house during the 20 year repayment period, the property tax assessment and the PV system remain with the property. This removes one key disincentive for PV.

Program participants are required to apply to the California Solar Initiative (CSI) rebate program, which will help off-set the total cost of the solar project. The FIRST program does not reduce the amount of the rebate available through the CSI program. Participants should consult a tax professional to determine whether income deductions or tax credits may be claimed on personal taxes.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: Local
Category: Financial Incentive
State: California
Incentive Type: PACE Financing
Web Site:
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Solar Photovoltaics
Terms: Up to $37,500 per installation


Name: FIRST Administrator - Renewable Funding
Address: 1746 Broadway, 3rd Floor
Oakland CA 94612
Phone: (510) 451-7900
Name: Berkeley FIRST Program
Organization: City of Berkeley
Address: 2120 Milvia Street
Berkeley CA 94704
Phone: (510) 981-7494

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.