Funding for solar burns out

A $9.5 million program that helped scores of businesses, residents and nonprofits install solar panels is being suspended because city funds have nearly dried up.

GoSolarSF was proposed in late 2007 by Mayor Gavin Newsom and approved by the Board of Supervisors in mid-2008 to encourage solar power use and to help foster a local industry.

The program’s funding, which comes from the sale of power generated at the Hetch Hetchy dam, quickly ballooned from $3 million to $9.5 million.

“The program has been incredibly successful,” said Jeanine Cotter, founder of local solar panel installer Luminalt Energy Corp. “We’ve grown as a result of it, and hired San Franciscans.”

Already, $8.7 million of the $9.5 million available has been reserved or handed out by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, prompting the agency to suspend GoSolarSF indefinitely for virtually all new applicants.

The program’s solar subsidies were previously available to anyone, but now only low-income residential applicants can qualify, according to utilities commission power official Barbara Hale. Those low-income applicants will continue to receive additional funds if they hire local installers.

To qualify as a low-income customer, a two-person household must earn less than $72,500 a year.</p>

“We’re having the kind of problem you love to have, which is that it’s a wildly popular program,” Hale said. “I think the funds will be exhausted before the fiscal year is out. We’re just trying to have an operating program for as long as we can.”

It’s unclear whether the program will be revived in the future.

“Our revenues in [the SFPUC Power Enterprise] aren’t growing, but our capital needs are,” Hale said. “We’ve burned through pretty much all of our surplus.”

GoSolarSF applications that are already approved are not affected by the announcement, and other would-be solar panel customers could still qualify for state subsidies and federal tax breaks.

 

Power of the sun

$9.5 million Subsidies available under GoSolarSF
$8.7 million Subsidies already provided or reserved
$600,000 Subsidies applied for but yet to be approved
$7,000 Basic subsidy still available for low-income applicants
$6,250 Additional subsidies available to some low-income applicants
700 Solar panel installations in The City in 2007
1,311 Solar panel installations currently in The City

Source: SFPUC

jupton@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocalSan Franciscosolar

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

Cities including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley are calling for large grocery and drug store chains to pay employees hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Shutterstock)
SF proposes $5 hazard pay law for grocery, drug store workers

San Francisco may soon join the growing number of cities requiring large… Continue reading

Hikers walk along a closed stretch of Twin Peaks Boulevard on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board to vote on future of Twin Peaks Boulevard

The proposal would keep Burnett Avenue gate closed to vehicles, open Portola Drive

Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Klein collects crayons from students in the classroom at Lupine Hill Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 in Calabasas, California. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom, legislators strike deal to reopen California schools

Taryn Luna and John Myers Los Angeles Times Gov. Gavin Newsom and… Continue reading

A sign about proposed development of the bluff at Thornton State Beach in Daly City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Retreat center proposed at popular state beach

Daly City residents oppose construction on ocean bluffs

City supervisors are calling for an expansion of free summer programs for elementary age kids. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supervisors urge city to provide free summer programs for all SFUSD students

San Francisco supervisors on Monday announced a proposal to expand summer programs… Continue reading

Most Read