When Modesto was founded in 1870, its proposed name was Ralston in honor of William Chapman Ralston, a prominent businessman and founder of the Bank of California. He declined, however, and the city was instead named Modesto (“modest” in Spanish).
Modesto is known for its sustainability programs, and the municipal government has a forestry division devoted to preserving vegetation in the city. The city has been nominated as Tree City USA from the Arbor Day Foundation on multiple occasions. Water conservation is also a high priority for the local government, and there is a rebate program for homeowners who upgrade to water-saving plumbing fixtures or who deploy rainwater collection systems.
In addition to these sustainability efforts, the city has started to transition to renewable energy. The Modesto Irrigation District (MID), which provides the local electricity service, has invested in solar and hydroelectric power to reduce its environmental impact. For example, MID deployed a 25-megawatt (MW) solar farm in 2012, which produces enough energy to power 6,000 homes.
Although MID electricity rates have remained stable in recent years, Modesto homeowners pay 18 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is around 40% higher than the national average electricity price. Modesto also gets an abundance of sunshine with up to eight peak sun-hours per day in the summer. Therefore, home and business owners in Modesto can achieve significant power bill savings with a solar panel system!
If you want to go solar, but cannot pay for a system upfront, there are many financing options available. One option unique to Californians is Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. The program offers home and business owners with low interest rate solar loans with repayment periods of up to 20 years. With this program, your solar panel system will pay for itself with energy bill savings. The approved PACE program in Modesto is the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO). This program serves more than 340 communities in California.
Another option available to homeowners who have a solid credit score and own plenty of equity in their home is a home equity line of credit (HELOC). These loans also come with low interest rates and repayment periods longer than 10 years, making them suitable for financing solar panels.
Keep in mind that all solar panel systems deployed before the end of 2019 are eligible for a federal tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of the system. Just remember that this tax credit will not last forever and now is the best time to buy!