This is staggering. In just over six months; Sonoma County’s Energy Independence Program has received 375 applications for more than $17 million worth of solar loans. Since Sonoma County went live with its PACE model of solar funding in March; applications have been pouring in daily, and the county intends to make loans indefinitely by packaging them as bonds.
“There is no end in sight,” said Amy Bolten, a county spokeswoman. “We think our program is just getting going.” And this is in addition to the county’s already very high solar adoption.
While encouraging solar installation via loans is wonderful indeed and should be encouraged, that bit about loans forever packaged as bonds should make anyone a bit nervous. I mean, that approach worked so well with real estate, didn’t it? The last thing renewable energy needs is for it to be a finance-driven bubble followed by the inevitable crash. The “no end in sight” sounds more than a bit bubblish to me. I mean, the money needs to get paid back, right?