San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors voted to conduct an analysis that could lead to more rooftop solar and other alternative energy projects.

The board voted unanimously to direct its staff to evaluate and compare public-private financing initiatives known as PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy programs, which are widely available in California.

PACE allows lending companies to provide loans to property owners interested in installing alternative energy projects without having to put down a large investment. Repayment for the installed projects is automatically subtracted from the owner’s property taxes.

The county started a commercial PACE program last year but has so far held off on the residential program because of limitations imposed by federal housing authorities.

However, at least two other counties, Riverside and Sonoma, are moving ahead with residential initiatives, the county said.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said she hopes the staff’s research will lift the financial cloud hanging over solar, particularly for homeowners.

“We’re fortunate to live in one of the sunniest regions in the nation but the tools needed to help pay for solar panel and related technology are out of reach for many property owners,” Jacob said.

— SDBJ Staff Report