The area where present-day Hayward is located was first settled in 1841, and was originally named Rancho San Lorenzo. The settlement survived a devastating earthquake in 1868, and in 1876 Hayward was officially chartered as a town. During the 20th century, Hayward’s economic growth was led by the canned food and salt industries, and the city now has a population of over 150,000.
Recently, Hayward has been at the forefront of sustainability practices. In 2015, Hayward received several awards from the Beacon Program. The Beacon Program is sponsored by the Institute of Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC), and it kind of a big deal. The city received five different awards for its sustainability practices:
In January 2017, the Hayward City Council established an ambitious net-zero energy goal for all municipal facilities. This means that by 2025 all municipal buildings in the city will be generating 100% of the energy they consume. The city plans to accomplish this lofty goal by deploying A LOT of solar panels. Hayward already gets 40% of its energy from renewable sources, but plans to make it 100%. The city is expected to invest $15 million to reach their net-zero energy target.
Many municipal buildings in Hayward are already being powered by solar panels, including the Water Pollution Control Facility and the Hayward Animal Shelter, generating more than 12 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year. The city also plans to convert one of its former landfills into a solar farm. The landfill has a total area of 24 acres, and 19,000 solar panels are expected to be deployed.
If you live in Hayward, you are probably used to the high electricity bills from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), who charges over 20 cents per kWh in the Bay Area. That’s over 50% higher than the national average! PG&E also increased their rates by 5% between 2016 and 2017 and are expected to continue raising rates year after year.
While high rates may be discouraging, they make solar panels a great investment in Hayward. Your power bills savings are higher than in states with cheap electricity, shortening your payback period and increasing your return on investment. In Hayward, you also have favorable net metering policies; you get full credit for all energy generated, even if it exceeds your daily consumption.
If you do not want to pay for a solar panel system upfront, you should consider a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan. These come with single-digit yearly interest rates and a term of up to 20 years, which means you can install solar panels at zero net cost and then use the energy bill savings to cover the loan payments.
Keep in mind that all solar panel systems deployed before the end of 2019 are also eligible for a federal tax credit equivalent to 30% of the total cost. This applies for both homes and businesses. If you pay for your solar panels upfront, this means you get 30% of your investment back in a year. On the other hand, if you use a PACE loan or any other financing option, the tax break helps you cover a significant portion of the loan payments. Hayward is a fantastic place to invest in solar energy because of high electricity rates, favorable financing options, and the federal tax credit!