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SolarCity commitment helps create new job opportunities

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A large solar power company donated expertise, $25,000 and a photovoltaic array to help residents of The City’s low-income southeastern neighborhoods develop green work force skills.

SolarCity’s donation will allow 15 to 20 residents to complete a 12-week course at City College of San Francisco, which will use the solar array in its clean-energy training programs, college board member John Rizzo said.The scholarship covers books, tuition, fees and other expenses.

Also, the company will donate staff time to help train students and develop curriculum.

The donation will help the company avoid ongoing hearings at the Board of Supervisors and bad press that followed a broken promise.

In early 2008, a SolarCity executive offered to build a solar training academy in the low-income Bayview district if the Board of Supervisors approved subsidies to help homeowners install solar panels.

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But after approval of the GoSolarSF program, which has already used or committed more than $10 million of city funds, the company abandoned its commitment, pointing to the recession and a glut of qualified solar installers.

Supervisor Chris Daly, who organized hearings on the issue, welcomed the scholarship program during a ceremony Thursday.

“It was cheaper for them to go ahead and help fund this important training program than it was for them to traipse down to City Hall every couple of months,” Daly said jokingly during a speech.

SolarCity Chief Operations Officer Peter Rive said the program was created through collaboration with community groups, and the relationship between the company and CCSF is unique.

“I haven’t heard of anything like this happening anywhere,” Rive said.

The scholarship program might be renewed annually, company spokesman Jonathan Bass said.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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