Richmond was officially founded in 1905, and benefited from a thriving manufacturing industry. The Ford Motor Company operated its largest west coast factory in the city between 1930 and 1960, and Richmond was a key military production facility during World War II. The Pullman Company also set up a manufacturing facility in Richmond during the early 20th century. Today, Richmond benefits from the presence of the petrochemical and healthcare industries and now has a population of over 100,000.
In recent years, solar power has experienced significant growth in Richmond due in large part to some large-scale solar installations:
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) serves Richmond and most other cities in the San Francisco Bay area. PG&E electricity rates are among the highest in the nation, exceeding 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). And as an investor-owned utility, PG&E tends to increase its rates each year; between 2016 and 2017 there was a price hike of 5%. Given the high price of electricity in Richmond, there is a significant opportunity to reduce your power bills by deploying solar panels.
One common financing option available for solar panel systems in Richmond is through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which offers loans with low interest rates and payment periods of up to 20 years. There are currently two PACE providers in Richmond: HERO and CaliforniaFIRST. Another attractive financing option for solar panels is a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which typically comes with a low interest rate and a payment period ranging from 10 to 15 years. This option is preferred for people with good credit who own a significant amount of equity in their property.
There is also an excellent grant program called GRID Alternatives for low-income households. This program allows solar panel systems to be deployed at a very low cost for those who qualify. The program is financed with carbon credits that are paid by power plants, oil & gas companies, and large industrial energy consumers. GRID Alternatives is headquartered in Oakland, but Richmond homeowners can also apply for these solar power grants.
All solar panel systems deployed before 2020 are eligible for a federal tax credit worth 30% of the total solar system cost. This tax credit applies for installations purchased with PACE financing and other types of loans. This means you may be able to deploy solar panels at zero upfront cost, and fully pay off the loan through energy savings and the federal tax credit!