When trying to figure out how to convert his home to solar power, Francisco DeVries found that, despite the long-term savings, dropping the initial money was a daunting prospect. In an effort to help fellow homeowners handle those costs, he found a way for the city to make the conversion easier -- by using municipal bonds to build up the capital costs of converting homes to solar power.
"Despite California's reputation for all things green, less than 0.5 percent of homes in the state have photovoltaic systems. Berkeley's greenhouse gas-reduction program is, in large part, aimed at encouraging the city's homeowners to put solar panels on their roofs. Because DeVries was in charge of spearheading the initiative, he says, 'I thought I should walk the walk: I thought I should get solar on my own house.'
But when he knuckled down to the task, DeVries came face-to-face with the high cost of going green. 'The bids came in, and I couldn't pull the trigger for all the same reasons that people everywhere aren't pulling the trigger,' he says. 'Which is, 'Oh my lord, that's a big check.''"