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Council approves solar rebates for new homes

Friday, April 7, 2017 by Jack Craver

City Council approved a measure Thursday to grant a developer, PSW Real Estate, up to $351,061 in rebates for installing solar electric systems in 147 single-family homes and 48 condo units it plans to build throughout the city. Those rebates, which come from Austin Energy’s operating budget, cover 22 percent of the estimated $1.62 million installation cost to the developer, according to a city staff memo, which also estimated that the solar systems will prevent the emission of 528 tons of carbon dioxide, 665 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 735 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 511 pounds of carbon monoxide. In other words, said the memo, it’s the equivalent of planting 12,296 trees or eliminating over 1 million vehicle miles (or 91 cars on Austin roads). Council Member Ellen Troxclair objected, saying it was essentially a subsidy for wealthy homeowners, noting the high prices of the properties PSW is developing. Council Member Greg Casar countered that he did not see it as a subsidy for the homeowners but as a benefit that the entire community will share. Government intervention on behalf of green energy is necessary, he said, because “the free market is delivering us a pathway to human destruction.” The measure passed 10-1, with only Troxclair in dissent.

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