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Solar help is on its way

Council OKs participation in program that reduces cost of installation.

July 08, 2010|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

CITY HALL — Glendale residents may soon take part in a new Los Angeles County program to help property owners with the high upfront cost of installing solar energy systems and other energy-efficient upgrades.

The City Council unanimously approved the city's participation in the Los Angeles County Energy Program, which was approved last year to encourage county residents to reduce their energy consumption by at least 20%.

Under the federally funded program, homeowners can apply through the county financing for energy-efficient retrofits and upgrades, ranging from new air conditioners to solar panels, officials said. Water-efficient upgrades may also qualify.

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The loan would be repaid through a line-item assessment on the building's property tax bill so the loan stays with the property, officials said. There will also be no cost to the city for participating in the program.

"I think it could be a really good step in making these major capital improvements to people's homes be more affordable," said Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who added that she's had to hold off on installing her own solar panels due to the high cost.

The cost of the systems vary based on size and scope, but can easily reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Participating homeowners may also be eligible for up to $4,500 in rebates and tax credits.

Officials say the program will help Los Angeles County reduce greenhouse-gas emissions since the majority of homes were built before state energy-efficiency standards.

"Not only is it going to help put a lot of people back to work, such as contractors that would be hired to do the upgrades, but it's also going to greatly improve the housing stock in Los Angeles County," said Marilyn Lyon, a spokeswoman for the program.

The first phase of the program, which is expected to start in September, will focus on existing single-family and multi-family residential buildings with up to four units, officials said. Later phases will include larger multi-family residential buildings and non-residential buildings.

New construction will not be eligible.

For more information, visit http://www.LACountyEnergyProgram.org or call (877) 78-LACEP.

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