Assessing the PACE of California residential solar deployment: Impacts of Property Assessed Clean Energy programs on residential solar photovoltaic deployment in California, 2010-2015

TitleAssessing the PACE of California residential solar deployment: Impacts of Property Assessed Clean Energy programs on residential solar photovoltaic deployment in California, 2010-2015
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsJeff Deason, Sean Murphy
Date Published03/2018
Abstract

A new study by Berkeley Lab found that residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (R-PACE) programs increased deployment of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in California, raising it by about 7-12% in cities that adopt these programs. R-PACE is a financing mechanism that uses a voluntary property tax assessment, paid off over time, to facilitate energy improvements and, in some jurisdictions, water and resilience measures.

While previous studies demonstrated that early, regional R-PACE programs increased solar PV deployment, this new analysis is the first to demonstrate these impacts from the large, statewide R-PACE programs dominating the California market today, which use private capital to fund the upfront costs of the improvements.

Berkeley Lab estimated the impacts using econometric techniques on two samples:

  • Large cities only, allowing annual demographic and economic data as control variables
  • All California cities, without these annual data

Analysis of both samples controls for several factors other than R-PACE that would be expected to drive solar PV deployment.

We infer that on average, cities with R-PACE programs were associated with greater solar PV deployment in our study period (2010-2015). In the large cities sample, solar PV deployment in jurisdictions with R-PACE programs was higher by 1.1 watts per owner-occupied household per month, or 12%. Across all cities, solar PV deployment in jurisdictions with R-PACE programs was higher by 0.6 watts per owner-occupied household per month, or 7%. The large cities results are statistically significant at conventional levels; the all-cities results are not.

The estimates imply that the majority of solar PV deployment financed by R-PACE programs would likely not have occurred in their absence. Results suggest that R-PACE programs have increased PV deployment in California even in relatively recent years, as R-PACE programs have grown in market share and as alternate approaches for financing solar PV have developed.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office supported this research.

LBNL Report Number

LBNL-2001143