Thursday, June 12, 2008

SF Passes Largest City Solar Program in U.S. (Finally)

After six months of hard-fought politicking, the San Francisco board of supervisors has finally approved the Solar Energy Incentive Program, the country’s largest municipal solar program. The program has been greenlighted for 10 years and has an annual budget of $3 million dollars. The money will be doled out as rebates in the form of tax incentives for private solar installations. Now the ordinance just needs approval from Mayor Newsom, who has been pushing for this program; it’s expected that the solar energy incentive program will be operational in the coming weeks. Update: For our interview with Mayor Newsom this afternoon, read here. He’s expecting the solar program to be ready as early as July 1st.

The program is designed to reduce the cost of solar for city residents and leverage private dollars to get more solar on San Franciscans’ roofs. Local solar installers, including Sun Run, Akeena Solar and SolarCity all made appearances throughout the lengthy six-month proceedings to voice their approval of the program, explaining it would provide jobs and clean power for the foggy city. Now the installers can start including the large new rebates, which can cut the cost of going solar by 20 percent, in their promotional materials and cost estimates.

The program grants a $3,000 to $6,000 rebate to individuals and a $10,000 rebate to businesses on solar installations. The board also preliminarily passed a separate $1.5 million one-year pilot program aimed specifically at helping low-income San Franciscans and nonprofits. This proposal still needs to be approved on a final read by the board, but it could mean the city will be paying out $4.5 million for solar roofs by the year’s end.

The city hopes that the $3 million in public funding will leverage some $1.5 million in private investment to boost the city’s solar capacity to 55 megawatts on some 15,000 rooftops over the next 10 years. Currently there are fewer than 700 solar rooftops in the city generating less than 5 megawatts of power.

Original here

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