Two years after it unveiled a pioneering residential solar program, Berkeley has decided to close it down.

Only thirteen property owners signed up for the BerkeleyFIRST pilot program, Judith Scherr reports in the East Bay Express, despite it being cited as a model for other cities, and even countries, and receiving glowing reviews in the media.

The plan’s concept was that the city pay the upfront costs of photovotaic systems for homeowners — usually between $20,000-$40,000. The city would then raise the funds through bond sales, and property owners would repay the loan over 20 years as part of their property tax assessments. The savings on electricity bills should have been roughly equivalent to the increased property tax costs.

The sticking point was that the finances didn’t necessarily add up for homeowners. During the pilot, some Berkeley officials were even advising homeowners that they might be better off going to a bank rather than using the city’s program.

Read the full story in the East Bay Express here.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...