City Hall Watch: Solar-panel plan would give green

Property owners and businesses that install solar panels could soon receive thousands of dollars apiece under a program approved Tuesday.

The legislation, approved by the Board of Supervisors in a 7-4 vote, authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to hand out money to help defray the cost of installing solar systems. Between $2 million and $5 million would be doled out annually.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, sponsor of the legislation, said the program would “accelerate solar in San Francisco” as The City lags behind other jurisdictions. Of The City’s 195,000 rooftops, only 740 have solar systems, Dufty said.

The program was opposed by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin along with Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Chris Daly and Jake McGoldrick.

“It’s public money,” McGoldrick said. “It belongs in public projects until we run out of public projects.”

Daly said the money should benefit low-income residents and nonprofit housing, not the well-to-do who may pay to install solar anyway.

On Monday, Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Examiner that opposition to the program is “outrageous” and that environmental groups statewide praise it. Newsom said progressive supervisors oppose it “purely for political reasons.”

The program was co-sponsored by Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, who led a task force that came up with it.

The board will take a second and final vote on the program next week.

IN OTHER ACTION

Wait to see: A vote on a contract to build a new fossil-fuel-burning power plant in order to shut down an older one was postponed until July 15.

Court vote: In a 7-4 vote, the board agreed to hold a hearing next week on whether to spend $500,000 to help fund Newsom’s plan to put a new kind of court in the crime- and drug-plagued Tenderloin.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com 

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