Customers could also elect to stay with PGE, which derives 22 percent of its electricity from renewables.

Marin Clean Energy works by buying energy contracts from renewable energy providers who place the electricity on the PGE power grid. PGE, in turn, receives a fee to deliver the power to customers in the communities that are enrolled.

Eleven Marin County communities and unincorporated Marin, as well as Richmond, San Pablo, Benicia and unincorporated Napa County have joined or are in the process of joining MCE, which began in 2010 and now serves 145,000 customers.

MCE has removed 131 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and enabled $5.9 million in energy savings to its customers so far, according to Executive Officer Dawn Weisz.

The council, which gave initial approval Nov. 18, will hold two more hearings on the plan in December and January before taking a final vote.

Mayor Janet Abelson said community choice aggregation will give residential customers who cant afford to absorb the cost of solar panels a chance to participate more fully in using renewable energy.

Councilman Greg Lyman agreed, saying the plan provides energy democracy, allowing customers a convenient, low-risk opportunity to move to renewables and away from fossil fuels as energy sources.

MCE Light Green customers, who receive 51 percent of their energy from renewables, currently pay roughly the same as regular PGE customers, while MCEs Deep Green program using 100 percent renewables is slightly more.

Some large customers are realizing significant savings. The city of Richmond is saving $40,000 a year since joining, while the West Contra Costa Unified School District is spending $60,000 a year less on electricity from its operations in Richmond and San Pablo, according to an El Cerrito staff report.

If MCE charges rise significantly compared with PGE, or for any other reason, customers can return to the utility, Weisz said.

Because the joint power authority is a not-for-profit entity, it can invest money in local solar energy projects instead of paying dividends to stockholders, according to Jamie Tuckey, MCEs director of communications.

MCE is planning a one-megawatt solar energy project in Richmond and another similar solar project in Novato, Tuckey said.

Three members of El Cerritos Environmental Quality Committee, which has been vetting the plan for months, along with four other speakers, were on hand to give their endorsements.

Its the single best thing we can do to reduce greenhouse gases and reach the goals of the citys Climate Action Plan, EQC member Howdy Goudey told the council. (Community Choice Aggregation) is growing rapidly nationally, with 5 percent of the US population involved, mostly in the past two years.

The city is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 percent per year. Joining MCE would reduce emissions by 1.7 percent for a total reduction of 3.2 percent annually, according to the staff analysis.

Garbage fee hike

Earlier in the evening, Garth Schultz, manager of the citys Operations and Environmental Services Division, announced that El Cerritos 2015 combined garbage collection, disposal and recycling rates will rise by an average of 3.5 percent for residential and 5.5 percent for commercial customers.

For example, a residential customer with a 35-gallon garbage cart, the most popular size, will pay $42.08 per month, up from $40.39 per month this year, Schultz said.

Schultz attributed most of the need for the increase on customers changing to smaller garbage carts, which cost less.

The cost of pickup is continuing to be distributed over a smaller amount of revenue, he said.

The Delhi-NCR region was considered prime property in 2012 to early 2013. Builders flocked to the area in droves and snapped up land tracts right, left, and center. Large conglomerates were also expected to set up manufacturing centers, warehouses and factories in the area. The state government also chipped in by working on the infrastructure, building new roads, and creating a special economic zone. Everyone expected buyers to come in droves and invest in the area in bulk. However, the international economy had other ideas stated.What Happened?

Buyers did come to the NCR region and property rates flared during 2013. However, the Indian economy stagnated in late 2013 due to national elections. With uncertainty about a new incoming central government, buyers decided to sit back and wait for the new government to get set up before they invested in anything. By early 2014, the NCR region faced a serious glut of property due to low absorption. Buyers were interested, but they hesitated to actively invest in the area until the new central government was well under way. Although this was a sound financial decision on their part, it did create several problems for builders and developers.

Almost all builders and developers in the NCR region had invested a lot of money to buy land and set up properties for sale, according to NDTV. Land purchase prices make up more than 60 percent of a project's estimated budget and builders were essentially paying this price from their pockets. Moreover, as builders purchased land at pre-election rates, they paid more for the land. This cost was transferred to the buyer in the form or a higher per square foot cost. In 2012-2013, the average per square foot price of a property ranged from Rs 6,000 to about Rs 22000 depending on location and project. This price tag put off many buyers as they were looking for affordable housing in the Rs 2,500 to about Rs 6,000 price range.

As buyers started to dry up, it created a cash flow problem for builders and inventory stagnated. In fact, the NCR region saw a pre-sales drop of about 73 percent in early 2014. According to First Post, a new report by the UBS stated that pre-sales on projects were down by 50 percent all over India. In fact, the stagnation of the residential inventory is at a seven-year high across multiple cities. Gurgaon, Delhi-NCR, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai have all been radically affected. This puts an increased load on the balance sheets of builders and contractors as they struggle to sell properties. According to 99 Acres, the property stagnation resulted in a drop in property sales by 22 percent across the NCR area. By mid-2014, buyers had also started offering attractive discounts and freebies like free parking spaces, pre-payment of stamp duty and registration, and waivers of incidental fees.

Stop on New Projects?

One of the major fallouts of this vicious circle was a major slowdown in new projects. The NCR saw a launch of about 7,600 units in 2014. This is about 39 percent less than project launches made during the previous quarter, according to NDTV. The new launches were mainly in Gurgaon and Noida. According to industry watchers, these areas were in demand and builders who had already purchased land in the area were forced to start construction to prevent sliding into debt. However, builders changed their project specifications and more than 80 percent of the new projects were specifically designed to cater to India's emerging middle class. Prices were in the mid-range and very much affordable. Gurgaon properties continued to sell as a floating workforce (working at various local companies) purchased or rented properties in the city. Noida, on the other hand, saw a decline in demand and new launches decreased by 70 percent stated Magicbricks.

All Bad News?

No, it's not all bad news, as the central government has finally begun to take efforts into its hands. The Narendra Modi led progressive government has taken an active interest in the real estate market. It announced several new standard operating procedures and deals that will make investing in real estate a very good idea for consumers. As a result, most builders like the Unitech Group are now looking forward to an increased in local and international interest in the greater NCR area.  The central government also announced several infrastructure projects in Tier II and Tier III cities across the country, reports Business Today. This could encourage people to move away from the bigger cities into the smaller cities and towns, ensuring property use and exchange in the form of rentals and outright sales. For buyers, this is a good time to invest. You can find affordable property anywhere in the Noida region at an affordable rate along with the potential for freebies and discounts.

Since the world economies went into a tailspin in 2008, getting a bank loan has gotten harder. But its also opened up the market for others to step in.

Welcome to peer-to-peer lending, a platform where people lend money to each other over the internet.

You can get actually a better deal by looking at people around you, looking at your community, says Soul Htite, the founder and CEO at Dianrong, a peer-to-peer lending company based in Shanghai.

Acting as a broker between lenders and borrowers, peer-to-peer lenders say they can offer a better rate to both sides without the weight of regulation and the expensive branches that typically make high street banks so cautious.

For many, these platforms are shaping up as the future of banking.

I doubt that people born today are ever going to have a bank account the same way you and I have a bank account, Htite told CNN. I think were going to see the banking world completely transform.

China is home to the biggest rise in peer-to-peer lending and Dianrong claims to be growing at a massive 20% each month. It fits well in China where people will typically first approach relatives for any large-scale loan.

Chinas state lenders are also notoriously regulation-bound and cumbersome, meaning that for many shadow banking and, now, peer-to-peer platforms are the only way to get small and medium-sized businesses off the ground.

Peter Renton, a peer-to-peer blogger who recently made a foray into investing raising $28 million this year for Lend Academy Investments LLC, regularly writes for an audience of 20,000 on his website that provides news and advice on peer-to-peer lending.

In the United States, peer-to-peer groups such as LendingClub and Prosper allow borrowers to apply for loans of as much as US$35,000 payable over three or five years. The companies use technology to do due diligence.

When a borrower is accepted, the loans are listed on the websites calling on institutions and individuals to back them.

Initially, the P2P platforms attracted retail investors, but increasingly big institutions and hedge funds have become interested in the platform. Companies such as have LendingClub currently projects returns of between 5.4% and 9.4%.

Its funny because its sort of come full circle, Renton said. Banks are now participating in P2P lending.

Its very simple, its very fast. Really, you can do it in your pajamas at two in the morning. That is the beauty from the borrower perspective.

From the investor perspective, its for the first time ever, people have been able to invest money in their fellow citizens.

The tax increase would do just that, providing the township with about $1.35 million in additional revenue.

Township officials said the vast majority of the debt was not of their making, noting that rising payroll costs and a collective bargaining agreement were just two of the culprits beyond their control.

When you get down to it theres not a lot of bells and whistles in this budget, said Bond. Its very lean.

But even thin people eat and the township still has to invest money in certain functions, such as maintaining a police department and public works.

Bond added that the township is taking risks on some items that should be replaced, but are not due to the lack of money.

He added that none of those risks, however, jeopardized public safety.

Should commissioners approve the budget next month, it will be the first time a tax increase has pinched township residents since 1985.

Its tough, was the way Bond summed up the situation. ...We all live here too.

The budget will appear on the townships website for public review starting Tuesday, November 25th, and will also be available for inspection by any township resident by visiting the municipal building..

In other business, commissioners announced that the townships Christmas tree lighting ceremony will take place at 5 pm on Saturday, Dec. 6th at the municipal building.