Leave it to Berkeley to bring solar to the people. Within the next few weeks, the über liberal Northern California city will allow property owners to pay for pricey solar electric systems—typically $15,000—simply by signing up for a 20-year surcharge on their property tax bill. The tax stays with the property even if the owner sells it (the solar panels would stay with the house).

The groundbreaking plan, known as “Berkeley FIRST” (Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology),...

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