In March, 2018 the Berkeley Lab released a report by Jeff Deason and Sean Murphy of its findings on residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (R-PACE) programs’ impact on solar photovoltaic (PV) implementation in California cities.

2 key takeaways of the study are:

  • PACE increased solar adoptions in cities by 7% during that time
  • At the time of sale, 55% of assessments are paid off, while 45% are transferred

R-PACE is a mechanism that attaches solar financing to property tax assessments that get paid off over time. Since the financing is attached to the property, it is transferable to a new owner if the property is sold. Most assessments are paid at the time of sale with 55% of assessments paid off before, and 45% transferred to new owners.

The study period was from 2010 to 2015 and focused on two samples:

  • Large cities with populations of at least 65,000
  • All California cities

The study found that R-PACE programs had an overall positive increase in solar photovoltaic deployment in both samples. In larger cities, there was an approximate 12% increase in PV activity where R-PACE programs were accessible. They report estimated that an additional 1 out of 5600 homes with access to R-PACE programs installed solar, totaling to 12000 systems a year. In all cities, an additional 1 out of 9900 homes installed solar systems which is about 9500 total systems a year. The all-city study sample had a 7% increase in PV deployment.

Deason and Murphy say that their estimates “imply that the majority of PV deployment deployed by R-PACE programs would likely not have occurred in the absence of the programs.” With additional R-PACE programs, the statistics for PV activity could increase even more. More R-PACE programs could encourage PV deployment by either reaching out to homeowners that other R-PACE programs did not reach or by lowering the cost of financing due to financial pressure.