Dark skies for solar-training plan

The CEO of California’s busiest solar energy installation company said he is ready to abandon plans to open a worker-training academy in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, due to a delay in a city proposal to offer solar rebates to residents and private companies.

In March, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that $3 million from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission would be used to provide subsidies for rooftop solar panel installations: up to $5,000 to residents and $10,000 for private companies.

Although the program was expected to begin this month, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick introduced legislation to put it on hold. The city legislator said the Board of Supervisors should have approved the spending proposal, which would drain funds from a municipal solar energy project. McGoldrick’s resolution is not due to be debated for more than two weeks.

Solar City CEO Lyndon Rive told The Examiner on Tuesday that his company will yank a proposal to set up a training center in San Francisco and locate it elsewhere in the Bay Area unless officials map out the rebate program’s future within 30 days. According to industry data, Solar City installs more solar panels per week than any other company in California.

“If this program doesn’t get approved, then the adoption of solar in San Francisco will be very low,” Rive said. “Based on that, we don’t think the volume will be there to sustain our training academy.”

Newsom said The City has worked hard to woo the company to San Francisco.

He described the delay to the proposed rebate plan as “potentially disastrous” to its relationships with other solar panel companies as well.

According to the Solar City proposal, the academy would have trained at least 30 workers every two months as solar panel installers, who would work for the company and be deployed around the country, according to Rive. The two-month course would cost students up to $1,000 apiece and the installation jobs would initially pay $15 to $25 per hour, he said.

The decision to relocate the training center would be a blow to The City’s efforts to establish itself as a leader in the emerging clean-technology industry, according to Egon Terplan, economic development director at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.

Policy issues related to the solar program need to be vetted before money is spent, McGoldrick told The Examiner in an e-mail. The supervisor characterized Solar City’s threat to abandon The City as “greenmail.”

jupton@examiner.com

Examiner Staff Writer David Smith contributed to this report.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

From left, Natasha Dennerstein, Gar McVey-Russell, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Jan Steckel and Miah Jeffra appear in Perfectly Queer’s fifth anniversary reading on Jan. 20.<ins> (Courtesy photo)</ins>
Perfectly Queer reading series celebrates fifth anniversary

Online event features five writers, games, prizes

(Robert Greene/Tribune News Service)
As tensions grow over vaccinations and politics, California lawmakers face threats from public

Anti-vaccine speakers hint at gun violence during routine budget hearing at state Capitol

Most Read