Council delays vote on solar loan program

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday put off a decision on a program that would help property owners finance the installation of solar panels or other energy and water conserving devices.

Citing a memo from the City Attorney’s Office that raised legal questions, the council voted 6-1 to postpone matter until May 25. Council President Ben Hueso cast the dissenting vote and Councilwoman Marti Emerald was absent from the meeting.

Under the proposal, property owners who participate in the Clean Generation Program would receive loans to install solar panels or water conservation devices, which would be repaid, plus interest, over a 20-year period on their property tax bill.

If the property were to be sold during the 20-year repayment period, the assessment would transfer to the new owner.

The cost of a solar system for a home runs about $24,000, staff told the City Council. The annual cost to participants would be offset by lower utility bills.

“I hope you’ll agree that this program has tremendous potential to help not only our environment, but also our economy and our reputation as a city that embraces innovation,’' Mayor Jerry Sanders testified at the start of the hearing.

The mayor’s office hopes to get the program running by June.